Oz could host World Cup
New South Wales Premier Morris Iemma has urged the Football Federation of Australia (FFA) to lobby FIFA for the 2010 World Cup, amid growing concerns that South Africa are struggling to cope with their organisational commitments.
The South African local organising committee were left embarrassed yesterday when they failed to turn up to a press conference that they themselves had called to discuss how their preparations have been going.
Publicly FIFA president Sepp Blatter has said that he is content with South Africa's preparations so far, but Australia and the USA are believed to have been identified as potential emergency hosts.
Iemma admitted he was "salivating at the prospect" of Australia possibly hosting the event, and has urged the FFA to make it clear to FIFA that they would be up to the task.
"I'd encourage the FFA to wave their credentials before FIFA as an emergency host should South Africa drop the ball," he said.
"We are ready and willing to stand behind the Football Federation if they choose to pursue it.
"We already have several magnificent arenas and the ability to upgrade other venues around the country."
The press conference mess up is the latest in a string of problems that the South Africans have had to endure in their World Cup preparations, with the projected construction cost for the project also having ballooned from €250 million to €900 million.
CEO of the local organising committee, Danny Jordaan, apologised for the press-conference debacle but refused to reveal a full explanation as to why it happened
"I want to apologise to the press and I understand some of their frustrations," he said.
"This was nothing unusual, we have heard of meetings running for longer than the time scheduled; it has happened at FIFA, it has happened within CAF, and so this was nothing unusual.
"I don't really understand what the fuss is all about."
Despite South Africa's troubles, FFA head Frank Lowy has said that for the moment he is still concentrating on putting together a bid for the 2018 competition.
"Australia has ambitious to host a World Cup in the future," he said.
"But we have heard nothing to suggest there will be a change for 2010."