In all the excitement of finding out that Australia and New Zealand would be officially serving as the hosts of the 2023 FIFA Women’s World Cup – which inarguably stands as the biggest sporting moment in Australia since the 2000 Olympics, and possibly even exceeds that – it’s been rather easy to overlook one key and fairly glaring slight: England didn’t vote for us.
Following the announcement, which came just before 2am this morning AET, FIFA officials released the final voting breakdown of its sitting delegates; part of a raft of on-going improvements to FIFA’s operations in a bid to boost transparency and move the organisation beyond the stink of the corruption scandals that plagued the awarding of past World Cups.
The joint Australian and New Zealand World Cup bid comfortably romped home in the final voting tally, seeing off a string of last-minute efforts from rival Colombia to secure the 2023 Cup by a voting margin of 22 to 13.
Here you can find the FIFA Council vote breakdown. pic.twitter.com/uOxwl6ElL1
— FIFA Women's World Cup (@FIFAWWC) June 25, 2020
In favour of the Australian/NZ bid were unified blocs of votes from the North American and Caribbean CONCACAF group, the African CAF contingent, the pan-Asian AFC which includes Australia, and the smaller Oceanic contingent of which New Zealand is a part of. The bid also secured the crucial figurehead vote of FIFA chairman Gianni Infantino.
Voting against the Aussie and Kiwi group, however, were the powerhouse duo of the South American CONMEBOL bloc – who, as expected, backed in their native Colombian bid – and the powerful UEFA European contingent, who voted collectively in favour of the Colombians.
That group just-so-happened to include England, headed up by FA Chairman Greg Clarke, who toed the UEFA line.
England, whose batty old monarch has her face planted across all our money, actually voted against Australia.
Clarke is understood to have been frustrated by the decision to bloc vote by UEFA, whose official reasoning for backing the Colombian bid reportedly centred around “development” of the women’s game, despite Australia and New Zealand’s bid far outstripping the Colombian one in official FIFA bid assessment documents.
Prior to this morning’s vote, there were rumblings that the Australian/NZ bid was on the verge of being ratfucked, after it emerged that Clarke had refused to take a phone call from New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern, who spent time contacting delegates in a bid to get the World Cup to antipodean shores.
As far as why Clarke didn’t break with UEFA to vote with England’s own Commonwealth, it’s worth noting that he personally is up for FIFA board re-election next year. Clarke is also currently nursing the impending English bid for the 2030 FIFA Men’s World Cup, which would require the backing of powerful footballing bodies like CONMEBOL to get over the line.
Two things, I’m suggesting nothing… 1) Greg Clarke is up for re-election next year, 2) England have long been thought to be preparing to bid for the 2030 men’s World Cup. https://t.co/8pil05xdgx
— Suzy Wrack (@SuzyWrack) June 25, 2020
That said, it’s a dog act of the highest order, even with the threat of the European Union breathing down his neck. And it’s one that football bosses in Australia aren’t taking lightly.
Speaking this morning, Football Federation Australia chief executive James Johnson stated “I actually don’t find it very funny. I think that was quite disrespectful to be perfectly honest with you.”
And he’s not bloody wrong, I tell you what.Image: Getty Images / Chris Jackson