In 48 hours we will know whether Australia has won the hosting rights for 2022, and if the team that has worked tirelessly to pull this off succeeds they will probably have changed the bidding landscape forever.
Australia has relied on home grown talent to enforce its claim the World should “Come Play” in 2022, while other nations have pulled in superstars with a football pedigree. Take one of Australia’s main rivals Qatar, who have as ambassadors, Argentine Gabriel Batistuta, Cameroon legend Roger Milla, France superstar Zinedine Zidane, super World Cup Coach Bora Milutinovic, as well as Sami Al Jaber, Ronald De Boer and Pep Guardiola.
Australia has opted to use Australian sports stars as ambassadors such as Olympic Gold Medallist Cathy Freeman, F1 Driver Mark Webber, Actor Hugh Jackman, television presenter George Negus, as well as a number of Politicians such as former Prime Minister John Howard.
There is no way that Howard would have the impact that Nelson Mandela had for South Africa, and one wonders if the lack of football superstars will hold the bid back.
It is also a brave move having Elle MacPherson, Kylie Minogue and Governor General Quentin Bryce presenting in Zurich. There is no doubt that this is a calculated risk by the bid committee and one hopes that it will pay dividends.
FFA Chief Executive Ben Buckley and Chairman Frank Lowy will also be part of the half hour presentation. No one can begrudge Lowy his time in the limelight after all he has done for the game in recent years, but maybe Buckley should have stepped aside for someone like Hugh Jackman who with his acting ability could really play with the emotions of those casting the votes. Sadly Buckley has always come across as very dour and unsure when talking about football. If anyone saw Lord Coe’s presentation when London won hosting rights for the 2012 Olympics he tugged at the emotions of all in the room, and was credited with getting the bid across the line.
With no big hitters on stage for Australia they will need to influence those with the votes with emotion and an Australian individuality. It is a big risk, but hopefully it is a calculated one that in years to come will be regarded as a genius move, that changed the face of World Cup bids forever.