Sport, without spin, from around the world. Matthew Hall considers the issues behind the headlines and tells the stories that others don't.
Melbourne: Sporting capital of the world (except for the World Cup)
There is powerful opposition to Australia's bid to host the 2018 or 2022 FIFA World Cups, and it comes from close to home.
It was impeccable timing from Australian Football League boss Andrew Demetriou.
Knowing the Socceroos 2010 World Cup draw would hog headlines last weekend, the AFL Chief Executive waited until Monday to unleash his own version of hell on the 600,000 or so people who live in the state of Victoria who love their "footy".
"How much do you want this World Cup?'' Demetriou asked his people. "Enough to miss an entire footy season?"
Forget about the Hollywood blockbuster 2012.
Demetriou suggested 2018 or 2022 would be the real apocalypse.
Soccer, he sermonised to AFL fans, wants to KILL YOUR SPORT.
Which is about as accurate as the predictions in the movie 2012.
Demetriou's concerns centre on stadium use during the proposed World Cup window.
For a World Cup, FIFA requires specific stadium configurations and shutouts of other events in a city for the lead-up to and during the tournament.
The trouble for Australia's World Cup bid is that so few world-class stadiums and training facilities exist in each city.
The AFL knows this because so many of its teams play matches at the iconic Melbourne Cricket Ground rather than their own stadiums.
Football Federation Australia knows this too which is why the Federal Government has had to act as peacemaker with local counterparts procrastinating on committing funds to new stadia.
The lack of genuine facilities – especially in Melbourne – combined with AFL's fear of soccer's inevitable rise, was always destined to bring upon something of a land grab.
The irony, of course, is that Melbourne is the self-proclaimed "cultural capital of Australia" (according Tourism Australia) and "the best sporting city in the world", according to people who apparently know these things.
But Melbourne, it seems, does not want the World Cup.
Demetriou's Chicken Little sky-is-falling cry earlier this week demonstrates one of two things.
Either the boss of the richest football league in Australia is stupid (unlikely) or he is cynically and brilliantly manipulating the situation to eventually benefit his own league in some way (more likely).
This includes the claim that up to three AFL clubs will "die" if Australia hosts the World Cup.
But as one wag suggested to me: "If the Soviet Union collapsed so to can Australian Rules."
Soccer fans, and Football Federation Australia chief executive Ben Buckley, may roll their eyes at the apparent small-mindedness of the AFL and the sport's fans in Melbourne.
Yet the administration has powerful friends in politics and the media.
For them, the reality is that a "footy" season really is more important than anything a FIFA World Cup may bring to Australia.
For Australia's World Cup bid, the other – very real – reality is that England and the USA are not the only rivals who may scupper this World Cup bid.
Beware the "enemies" within.
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