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 Posted by ESPN Staff
Dec 8, 2009

Etihad can't be part of WCup bid: AFL

AFL chief Andrew Demetriou has called on Australian soccer bosses to respect the needs of the other football codes, claiming Etihad Stadium cannot be part of any bid for the 2018 or 2022 World Cup finals.

Demetriou said the AFL accepted that they would not have access to the 100,000-capacity MCG for up to 10 weeks if Australia won the right next year to host either of the World Cups.

But he declared Melbourne's other major venue, Etihad Stadium, off-limits to the bids by Football Federation Australia.

The AFL is nine years into a 25-year deal with the Docklands venue, which has a capacity of 56,000.

World soccer's governing body FIFA requires bidding nations to have 12 venues with a minimum capacity of 40,000.

The new rectangular stadium in Melbourne was initially planned as Melbourne's second World Cup venue along with the MCG, before its capacity was capped at 31,000 and it became clear that the prospect of enlarging it was prohibitively expensive.

"In order for our season to be able to work and accommodate our stakeholders, we need to start planning and to have a season that runs concurrently with the World Cup," Demetriou told Radio 2UE on Wednesday.

"Of course we would avoid things like finals because it doesn't make any sense to go up against a final.

"We would suspend our season.

"... we've been waiting to hear options and solutions from the FFA and we've come up with our option, given we haven't had anything forthcoming.

"We would make the MCG available for 10 weeks, which is ours under our agreement, but we need Etihad Stadium to be able to conduct our season.

"If we haven't got Etihad Stadium and the MCG, we can't run a season."

Demetriou and FFA CEO Ben Buckley are close friends and former AFL teammates with North Melbourne.

They also worked together at the AFL before Buckley moved to the top job at soccer's national governing body.

But Demetriou chided the FFA for failing to keep Australia's other football codes in the loop regarding the World Cup bidding process.

"They certainly have to improve their communication, not just with us but other people involved in and being affected by a World Cup," he said.

"I think a World Cup is a great thing for this country (but) it's time to get this stuff organised.

"They really need to be proactive and come up with solutions and start listening to the other codes and other people affected by this, particularly the venues, and not do all the talking."

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