Very early in his prime ministership, Kevin Rudd decided that Australia should bid for the rights to host the 2018 or 2022 soccer world cups. That was despite evidence that hosting major sporting events provides no economic benefit, despite the massive corruption entrenched in the so-called “world game” and despite Australia’s status as a soccer minnow.
In the end, Rudd allocated just under $46 million to help the Football Federation of Australia organise a bid. He then personally lobbied soccer figures like Sepp Blatter as part of that bid.
As we have known for some time, the bidding process that delivered the World Cup to Russia and Qatar was, even by soccer’s wretched standards, marked by blatant corruption. The legal consequences of that corruption are still to be played out in US courtrooms over the coming years.
How exactly the taxpayer funding of $46 million was used in Australia’s bid has never been satisfactorily explained. Were foreign officials bribed, as some say? Such behaviour is a clear breach of Australian laws, and deserves an inquiry, where Rudd should be required to explain his own role in lobbying for the bid. Moreover, as Senator Nick Xenophon says, Australian taxpayers should be given back their $46 million. If FIFA won’t provide it, then the FFA should.
And if, by some unlikely possibility, the debacle of awarding the World Cup to the brutal regime of Qatar is overturned, under no circumstances should Australia make another bid to host the showpiece event of one of the world’s most corrupt bodies.