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Apr 3, 2008

Political grandstanding ahead of Cup bid

NSW Premier Morris Iemma believes his state could potentially supply up to five venues for consideration for Australia's 2018 soccer World Cup bid.

Football Federation Australia chief executive officer Ben Buckley said some states may have to supply more than one venue or region as part of Australia's bid to host the world's biggest single sport event.

Buckley and his FFA colleagues will get an opportunity next month to lobby the code's major powerbrokers when Sydney hosts the FIFA Congress on May 29-30.

Premier Iemma insisted NSW could potentially have up to five venues capable of staging World Cup games.

Sydney already boasts two major venues in ANZ Stadium and Sydney Football Stadium both of which hosted soccer matches at the 2000 Olympics.

The Premier suggested Newcastle's EnergyAustralia Stadium could be a contender for World Cup matches following a $40 million state and federal government funded redevelopment of that venue's western stand.

"EnergyAustralia Stadium in a few years will be right up there and after that you can take your pick out of Central Coast, Wollongong, Campbelltown Stadium, Penrith and Parramatta," Mr Iemma said.

"Those are all other potential venues that can be upgraded to bring them up to FIFA standard to give us at least three, possibly five venues that could be available to the FFA to put in its submission."

Asked if any state could have multiple venues and regions represented in an Australia World Cup bid, Buckley said: "I think there's a possibility, that remains to be seen.

"But if you look around the country we will need in some cities to play in more than one venue."

He said the infrastructure audit the FFA had commissioned from PricewaterhouseCoopers, looking at stadia and support mechanisms including training facilities, accommodation and public transport, would be completed mid-year.

Buckley said the FFA already had an excellent platform to build on with outstanding facilities in most capital cities and good quality venues in a lot of regional centres.

"But we will have to make some serious and significant investments in some of those to update them, whether that's in terms of spectator facilities or just sheer capacity, there will need to be some upgrading in some areas."

Premier Iemma took an opportunity to have another snipe at Melbourne by declaring Sydney's ANZ Stadium would be "the perfect venue for a World Cup final because it complies with FIFA regulations and the MCG doesn't.

"What kind of a signal would that send to the world to have the world football final at a cricket ground?" added Iemma.

FFA officials later denied that was the case and were adamant the MCG met FIFA criteria.

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