You’ve all heard the joke about how many economists it takes to change a light bulb, yes? 

Well try this one. How many FFA executives does it take to watch the Women’s Asian Cup in Amman, many for the duration of the tournament?

We’re not talking here about the ‘worker bees’ who look after the team or media or commercial operations, but people with titles - such as Chairman, CEO, Special Counsel, Heads of departments, General Managers, and more. 

The answer? Nine- at least that was the last count. 

Excluding Chairman Steve Lowy, who probably did not fly commercially but took one of the two Westfield aircraft, that’s around $80,000 in air fares alone. Add in accommodation for between five days and the best part of two weeks at a business class hotel at, say, $230/night (again, excluding Lowy), and that’s an additional $25,500 not including meals, transport and entertaining. It’s fair to conclude that approximately $120,000 of football’s money was spent on the eight FFA executives at the Women’s Asian Cup.

What were they all doing?

Some took their families along for the school holidays. There were the matches to attend; five in which the Matildas played in total. Of course, there were also meetings. But, according to well-placed sources in Amman, other attendees believes that the reason FFA was there in force was their “incessant lobbying” for the 2023 Women’s World Cup. 

Val Migliaccio reported earlier in the week that our chance of hosting the Women’s World Cup would be so much greater if the Matildas were to win Saturday morning’s final against Japan. 

We dismissed that notion at the time - for four reasons.

First, FIFA doesn’t make decisions about World Cup hosts based on who wins a tournament. Think Qatar, Russia, South Africa, Japan, Korea, UAE, USA and more – even Germany 2006. Whoever came up with that spin on the ‘need’ to win being a tipping point for support for the 2023 Women's World Cup bid put an unfair and unjust burden at the feet of the Matildas. 

Second, if you accept – as FFA and the federal government clearly do – that FIFA has now reformed and decisions about World Cup hosts are based on merit and evidence, why does it need eight executives, plus Lowy, plus Moya Dodd (who attended in her capacity as an AFC Executive Committee member), to ‘lobby’ for the tournament at least one year ahead of when the decision is taken on who will host 2023? In terms of oversell, that puts even the 2018/2022 Aussie bid in the shade. 

Third, there is also the issue of which confederation is ‘due’ to host the 2023 Women’s World Cup. By then, the previous hosts from 2019 backwards will have been UEFA, CONCACAF, UEFA, AFC, CONCACAF, CONCACAF, UEFA, AFC. Yes, it could be the turn of an AFC country – Japan, South Korea, Thailand and India are also bidding in addition to Australia. It could also be seen as the ‘turn’ of CONMEBOL, which has not yet hosted the tournament and from which Colombia is the sole bidder.   

Finally, as one source remarked: ‘When will the Australians realise we won’t take them seriously until they sort out their own mess?’

By that, they mean the FFA Congress. 

Seventeen days after FIFA announced the terms of reference and membership of the Congress Review Working Group, nothing has been heard other than to confirm the individuals representing the A-League clubs (Greg Griffin and Simon Pearce) and the member federations (Kimon Taliadoros, Sam Ciccarello, Anter Isaac and Liam Twigger). This group’s first task, together with the FFA Board and PFA representatives is to “unanimously” agree on a chairperson for the working group. Time is ticking-by. There are 102 days remaining in which to report a majority view to FIFA and AFC on the composition of the FFA Congress. 

Meanwhile, approximately $120,000 of football’s money was spent on at least eight executives attending the Women’s Asian Cup. No doubt some of them did need to be there. But all of them? Make up your own mind.

And while you think about that, imagine what else that $120,000 (or a portion of it) could have been spent on. For example: marketing of the A-League finals so people other than rusted-on supporters actually knew they were on; upgrading flights for the Matildas’ travel to Jordan - can you imagine the Socceroos not travelling business class to the UAE for next January's Asian Cup? or even our favourite unfunded football cause – the Pararoos.

As the City Football Group’s Brian Marwood said to local journalists during the week, the sooner FFA governance is sorted out,

the better.

In the meantime, if we don’t win the right to host the Women’s World Cup in 2023, it is absolutely nothing to do with the Matildas not winning the Asian Cup in the early hours of Saturday morning.

Congratulations Japan. Well played to both teams.  

Categories: Analysis | Football Business

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