Fears that federal government responses to soccer’s civil war could jeopardise plans to host the Women’s World Cup in this country were raised in the senate this week after stakeholders in the game suggested they were being subjected to government lobbying in the lead-up to the crucial vote at Thursday’s annual general meeting of the FFA.
South Australian senator Don Farrell asked the Victorian senator Mitch Fifield, representing the Minister for Sport Greg Hunt, if soccer’s governance issues, which could ultimately lead to world governing body FIFA take over the running of the local game, would influence Hunt’s decision on making $4 million available to help fund Australia’s bid to fund the 2023 Women’s World Cup.
Fifield reiterated the government line that it would make the cash available “if the government is satisfied that there are reasonable prospects of success and that FIFA’s bidding process conforms to the highest standards of probity”.
Fairfax Media reported earlier in the week that Hunt had told a Football Federation Victoria organised Women’s Football Forum in Melbourne earlier in November that “if FIFA were in administration of Australian sport then we would not be successful, we know that, they have made it clear to us so we have to resolve that in the next week.
“I am very confident that we will get a domestic resolution … and I am very confident that we will be in a position to provide the next round of support. There’s another $4 million that we have contingent to the resolution in Australia,” the minister said in a video, which was eventually uploaded to the internet by Football Federation Victoria several days after it was first delivered.
Some within the game saw this as evidence of government intervention in the sport. Media attempts to view the content were initially stymied, but a spokesman for the minister said that because it wasn’t regarded as a media event no copy had been uploaded by the minister’s office.
The minister told the audience that he had spoken with the PM, the Treasurer, the Minister for Women and the Finance Minister and the government were fully behind the plan – as long as soccer’s warring factions were singing from the same song sheet.
“We want to work with the state federations to make sure that there is full alignment between the state federations and the FFA. Without that it would be almost impossible to bid.”
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