Australia should withdraw from 2023 race
With FIFA to decide the 2023 Women's World Cup by vote of the FIFA Council only, we should get out now20 February 2019 | Bonita Mersiades
Writer, editor, publisher
It was so predictable.
FIFA has revealed overnight that the Women's World Cup vote will not be an open contest voted on by the FIFA Congress, but will be decided on by the 36 members of the FIFA Council.
This is in sharp contrast to the vote for the men's World Cup for 2026 and contrary to their own reforms of 2016 where all member associations get a vote. All votes were also made public by FIFA for the 2026 tournament which will be co-hosted by the USA, Canada and Mexico.
It is also precisely what I railed against and advocated in response to, for the best part of eight years.
As a consequence of FIFA reverting to type, Australia should not be involved in the race for the 2023 Women's World Cup as a point of principle.
If we were to win, Australia will lay itself open to the “deals, counter-deals and double deals” for which FIFA decision-making has become so well known, thanks to people such as journalists Andrew Jennings, Jens Weinreich, Thomas Kistner and whistleblowers like myself. If we do not win, we will only have ourselves to blame for once again taking part in a process for the most prestigious women's sporting event in the world which is confirmed from the outset as at best, flawed and at worst, dodgy.
If FFA is genuine about its commitment to reform of FIFA into a democratic, transparent and accountable world governing body, they will say ‘enough is enough’ and withdraw from the race. Having previously attempted to say they were “naive” in respect of 2018/2022 - and one would have to have been born, literally, yesterday to believe that - they have no such excuse today.
FIFA has set out a process and timeline which will no doubt be impeccably managed by its staff, as they did in respect of 2018/2022. FIFA has also committed to an expensive and time-consuming bid inspection process, human rights assessment and evaluation reports. Their timeline for the bids require an expression of interest by 15 March, the formal lodgement of the intention to bid by 16 April, completion of Bid Books by 4 October, for a decision to be made in March 2020.
So far, Australia, Japan and Colombia are the only countries known to have announced plans to bid for the 2023 Women’s World Cup.
FFA should show some dignity and walk away. Winning the 'FIFA Way' is no win at all.
Update: Late on 20 February, FFA Chairman Chris Nikou and CEO David Gallop committed FFA to proceed with the bid, “welcoming” the announcement by FIFA without regard to the so-called FIFA reforms.
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