Australia ready to host if Qatar stripped of 2022 World Cup

Melbourne, June 4 (IANS) Australia has put up its hand in a bid to secure the 2022 FIFA World Cup should it be taken from Qatar due to corruption allegations.

The ongoing controversy, that has so far resulted in the arrest of several senior FIFA officials and contributed to the resignation of Sepp Blatter as its president, has raised doubts about the legitimacy of Qatar’s bid, reports Xinhua.

Should the tournament be stripped from the Arab nation, Victoria’s sports minister John Eren said on Thursday that Australia was ready to host.

“We could step in, we could help out. We are prepared to take on the challenge,” he said.

He said Australia’s existing bid for the tournament was still good enough to secure the event.

“Once you see the allegations (against Qatar) being made, it didn’t matter what campaign you had,” he said.

Australia, along with the United States, was beaten by Qatar for the rights to host the 2022 event, and Eren said the infrastructure and planning had already been put in place.

But despite Australia’s original bid stating that Sydney would host the final, Eren said Melbourne deserved the main event.

He said both the native code of Australian rules football and Australia’s domestic league would be supportive of getting the tournament to Australian, meaning the 100,000-seat stadium, the Melbourne Cricket Ground (MCG), would be available for the final.

“We’re big enough to accept there are lots of other codes that share this wonderful state,” he said.

“Soccer and (Australian rules) football get along quite well.”

Eren touted the Melbourne Cricket Ground (MCG), Simmonds Stadium in the city of Geelong, and Melbourne’s AAMI Park as suitable Victorian venues for the tournament, despite the latter two falling short of the minimum attendance requirements for hosting the World Cup.

He said any changes to bring the state’s stadiums up to standard would be minimal.

Eren stated that Melbourne’s experience of hosting the successful Asian Cup football tournament, the Cricket World Cup and annual events like the Australian Open and the Grand Prix proves to the world that Melbourne and Australia could handle another world-class event like the FIFA World Cup.

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