Kennett criticises World Cup planning
WILL BRODIEDecember 14, 2009
Jeff Kennett says he 'backed off' a World Cup bid after receiving entreaties from the Sydney Olympic bid campign.
Hawthorn president Jeff Kennett says "no-one has done the work" on the Australian World Cup bid, and the disruption caused by a successful bid to Australia's other football codes could have a heavy "emotional cost".
Speaking on radio station SEN's Hungry for Sport program this morning, the former Victorian premier said that he supported the "concept and principle" of the 2018 or 2022 bids, but that "emotion", rather than good planning, was ruling the application.
"I have yet to see any evidence ... any detailed work ... on the cost and ramifications of the bid" Kennett said .
"... For us in Australia it would mean that those codes which occupy 95% of the football activity and 95 per cent of the public's involvement, emotional and attendance (sic) ... has to step aside for a period of time sufficient to wreck the year to allow the code that only represents five per cent of our activity."
Kennett said that hosting the World Cup would be "wonderful", but then expressed reservations about the impact the world's biggest sporting event would have, not just on the local codes, but on the emotional well-being of the populace.
"It really worries me that this bid, when you put in security etc, is
not only going to cost a lot of money, it is going to disrupt the
majority of Australians for the best part of the year. And that's
serious, because wearing my hat as the chairman of Beyond Blue, I have
come to realise that after family and our employment, which provides us
all with stresses and anxieties from time to time, we turn to our sport
to put a balance in our lives.
"And if we don't have the opportunity to provide our public with a balance for a year forget the financial cost, the emotional cost will also, I think, be a very heavy price to pay."
Kennett, who once himself led a nascent bid to host the World Cup, said that the Australian bid "just doesn't equate with countries that play soccer as their winter sport".
"I have yet to see any evidence that anyone, be it the Federal Government who is backing the bid, or Soccer Australia has actually done the detailed work as to both the cost of staging the World Cup and then the ramifications of such.
"For instance, if we win the World Cup and it goes ahead, AFL, league, rugby union are all going to have to continue to pay their staff, pay their players for that year.
"But of course there won't be grounds to attract crowds that will attract revenue. No-one is offering compensation. No-one has done the work.
"And I don't know how NSW right now can justify a new stadium (a $150 million upgrade of the Homebush Stadiumis being mooted) when the state is fundamentally broke.
"So I'm in favour of the concept and the principle. But before you build a house, before you build a company, you have got to actually have done the work to work out what it is going to cost and how you are going to deliver it. I haven't seen any evidence of that."
Upwards of $100 million could be required to bring Australian stadia up to World Cup capacity requirements.
In 2008, Kennett called on Prime Minister Kevin Rudd to utilise the skills of Victorian major events specialist Ron Walker in a bid to snare the World Cup for Australia.
In 2001, Kennett offered to take a hands-on role in the running of the game, which was then beset by financial and political crises. He advocated for an independent commission to run the game in Australia, in the same way the AFL commission ran its sport at arm's length from its individual clubs. He was consulted by then Soccer Australia supremo Ian Knopf during this period.
He has been president of Hawthorn since December 2005 and was premier of Victoria from 1992-1999.