Football 3 years ago

World Cup bid still burns Lowy

  • World Cup bid still burns Lowy

Australia's failed World Cup bid will forever haunt Frank Lowy, who spearheaded the doomed campaign to bring the 2022 tournament down under.

The 85-year-old, who stands down as Football Federation Australia chairman on Tuesday, says he still wakes in the night over the decision to award the 2022 tournament to Qatar.

"I still have nightmares about it," he told AAP.

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Australia won a measly one vote from FIFA's 22 delegates in the fraudulent and tawdry process, the subject of a new ABC documentary.

`Played: Inside Australia's Failed World Cup bid' will air on Tuesday night, alleging new depths of skulduggery as countries lobbied for bidding rights to the 2022 tournament.

"The funnelling of money to people who were in a position to influence a vote was done on an industrial scale; tens of millions of dollars," says Mark Ryan, Lowy's trusted adviser, in the documentary.

"We didn't have natural gas contracts to threaten countries with, or the supply of aircraft or military hardware.

"These were the kind of deals that were being traded in exchange for World Cup bid votes and we were nowhere in that game."

On display too, is Lowy's sharp disappointment.

On the eve of the December 2010 vote, the documentary shows Lowy believed was in with a strong chance of winning in a five-horse field that included South Korea, Japan, Qatar and the United States.

He counted out what he believed to be five firm votes - Michel D'Hooghe (Belgium), Marios Lefkaritis (Cyprus), Vitaly Mutko (Russia), Franz Beckenbauer (Germany) and disgraced former FIFA president Sepp Blatter himself.

He added two African votes before declaring "if we get seven, we cannot lose".

But only Beckenbauer voted for Australia.

Lowy, Australia's fourth-richest man according to the BRW Rich List, with an estimated wealth of $7.8 billion, is not used to losing.

In a separate interview, the retailing tycoon said the Cup bid stands as the glaring misstep of an otherwise glowing career in business and sport.

A federal government grant of $43 million was spent on the campaign, in addition to Lowy's own contributions.

But he says the losing bid should be seen alongside his achievements as FFA chairman; including a move into Asia, hosting and winning the Asian Cup, and the growth of the A-League.

"I look at it as a major non-achievement, a major failure, a setback," said Lowy.

"Nevertheless, if you put it into context of 10, 12 years, a lot has been achieved.

"I should be satisfied but as a strong critic of myself, I am only 75 per cent satisfied."

Lowy said he would attend the Qatar tournament despite his misgivings over the process.

"Is it right? Of course it isn't right," he said.

"If Australia is there and I'm well and alive, I will go. Will I have a sour taste? Yes."

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