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World Cup barney brews before ball is bounced -

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World Cup barney brews before ball is bounced

Lexi Metherell reported this story on Monday, December 7, 2009 12:38:00

ELEANOR HALL: Australia's bid to host the soccer World Cup is being closely watched not just by
soccer fans but by other football codes as well.

And the AFL does not want the bid to succeed. It has launched a media blitz to draw attention to
its concerns that the event could disrupt AFL games. It warns that games at the MCG may have to be
sacrificed because of the cup.

In Melbourne, Lexi Metherell reports.

LEXI METHERELL: As Australia's bid to host the World Cup gathers pace there appears to be growing
discontent among soccer's rival codes. The head of the AFL hit the airwaves this morning to send a
signal to his counterparts at Football Federation Australia.

ANDREW DEMETRIOU: It is important and incumbent on the FFA to get their act together to make sure
they start communicating with not just our code but other codes to talk about solutions as to how
they will accommodate having our codes played in between the World Cup.

LEXI METHERELL: Andrew Demetriou's concerned about how the MCG would be used for the World Cup if
Australia wins the right to host the tournament in 2018 or 2022. The AFL's hallowed stadium needs
to be refurbished to meet FIFA's guidelines.

Mr Demetriou says he hasn't had much in the way of communication from FFA but fears that it could
take some time, and 16 weeks may be ripped out of the AFL's season.

ANDREW DEMETRIOU: I mean, if that is true that would put our season in jeopardy and that is
something that we need to get some clarification on.

LEXI METHERELL: What would it mean for the AFL season?

ANDREW DEMETRIOU: Well, I mean the various options and scenarios obviously revolve around either a
suspension of the season and then to resume or it could even mean not having a season and that is
something that we just couldn't entertain.

BEN BUCKLEY: Well, I think we have communicated as much information as we have available at
present.

LEXI METHERELL: The chief executive of the FFA is Ben Buckley. He used to be Andrew Demetriou's
right-hand man at the AFL and is well aware such a move won't be taken lightly in sports-mad
Melbourne as shown by talkback callers on ABC local radio and Fairfax Radio this morning.

TALKBACK CALLER: There will be demonstrations if they try to keep football out of the traditional
football states.

TALKBACK CALLER 2: The community as far as football is concerned, is much bigger and greater than
what the local soccer federation is.

TALKBACK CALLER 3: Forget about the AFL. Bring the world game here. It is the most beautiful game
in the world.

TALKBACK CALLER 4: And I'm sure if our heads of state and our heads of sport get together, there
will be a compromise worked out.

LEXI METHERELL: Mr Buckley says he would like the MCG to feature prominently in an Australian World
Cup but he denies that it will be off-limits to the AFL for 16 weeks.

FFA had been considering installing rectangular seating at the ground but decided it would take too
long and be too expensive and instead has opted for a smaller upgrade.

BEN BUCKLEY: Well, it would need some refurbishment to some of the changing room facilities and
some of the back of house operation facilities which would be marginal costs. It is an outstanding
facility. It has only recently gone through a major upgrade for the Commonwealth Games and you
know, would not need significant costs to bring it into line with what FIFA require.

LEXI METHERELL: How long do you think that would take out of the AFL's season?

BEN BUCKLEY: Well, under the FIFA requirements, any venue that we will use for the World Cup, we
need to get access to the venue four weeks in advance of the tournament and that is what we are
currently planning.

LEXI METHERELL: And then you will need it for another four weeks for the actual tournament itself?

BEN BUCKLEY: Yeah, assuming that the MCG was to host a final or a semi-final, it would be another
four weeks on top of that.

LEXI METHERELL: So potentially eight weeks out of the...

BEN BUCKLEY: That is correct. About eight weeks, which is what we have communicated to the AFL
previously.

LEXI METHERELL: Ben Buckley's expecting the AFL to ask for compensation for any MCG games it would
have to sacrifice to the World Cup.

The issue of Australia's bid is expected to be on the agenda at today's COAG meeting in Brisbane.
The Victorian Government says an AFL season must continue if the World Cup bid is a success and FFA
needs to work through the league's concerns.

ELEANOR HALL: Lexi Metherell reporting.