It was back on April 1st of this year that we posted a piece about the FFA’s failure to spread the ‘Come Play’ World Cup bid promotion around the country. We also had a poll asking you to vote as to whether they should be including more cities around the country. The result was 100% voted yes.
Six months down the track and two away from the voting by FIFA delegates it is sad to see that nothing has changed. The latest “symbol of the nation’s support” a four metre high giant ‘Come Play!’ football being rolled on the Sydney harbour bridge last weekend by FFA Chairman Frank Lowy, CEO Ben Buckley and a selection of players from the Matildas and the Socceroos.
The failure to embrace Australia, even though the people of Australia have embraced the bid will sadly be Australia’s downfall.
In August it was announced a deal had been done with outdoor media companies Adshel, APN Outdoor, JCDecaux and Ooh! along with Cactus Imaging and Brite who joined the Outdoor Media Association support the nation’s bid. They would provide ‘more than $700,000 worth of contra to showcase the Bid’s new advertising campaign ‘FIFA, pass us the ball and Come Play! in 2022’. These advertisements being showcased ‘on key inventory and sites across Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane during the FIFA Inspection Tour of Australia (26 – 28 July).’
The whole bid focus has been in Sydney with the exception of a few events in Melbourne. As mentioned the FIFA Delegates, only visited three of the ten host cities, and had to make do with a display at the Sydney Convention and Exhibition Centre aimed at showcasing every city, region and stadium in the Football Federation Australia Bid.
The thing that makes this failure to include the rest of the country in the bid process is Australia’s biggest failing, because it is in fact the whole basis if the FFA’s bid.
Whereas the England bid is based on history, the USA’s on celebrities, Australia’s was unofficially dubbed ‘the people’s bid’ as the FFA looked to garner support from the Australian people.
It was branded an innovative idea to have a bid website, and through that website show FIFA that the people of Australia are totally behind the bid, the counter on the site confirming just how many. It is undoubtedly a great concept, and it has been extremely successful, but it will not take FIFA delegates long to know that major cities around the country are feeling a little used. Used, because they have not been included in the bid process at any stage and that all the ‘fun’ and promotion is being had in predominantly Sydney. No “Come Play” event has – as far as we can ascertain – been held in Tasmania, South Australia, The Northern Territory or Western Australia.
What will also hamper Australia’s chances is the fact that we do not even have the total support of our confederation. The USA is guaranteed that support, although when it comes to FIFA nothing is ever guaranteed. Qatar’s bid is bold and having witnessed their spokesman speak, they will steal crucial votes away from Australia.
It would be truly incredible to win this bid, and those on the bid board have no doubt worked hard, but the failure to engage Australia as a whole face to face rather than in cyberspace, when that was the foundation on which the bid was built, has been a major failing.