Address by Mr Frank Lowy AC Chairman, Football Federation of Australia National Press Club, Canberra

Ken Randall, President of the National Press Club,

Ladies and gentlemen,

Thank you for the invitation to address you today.

I’ve never faced the nation’s media en masse like this before, and I must say that contrary to your reputation, you all look friendly enough!

First – it’s really been a big week for football.

I’m ecstatic that the Socceroos qualified for the 2010 World Cup to be held in South Africa, just the second time we’ve qualified since 1974.

The last time we qualified in 2005 we did it by the skin of our teeth – in a penalty shoot-out in the last game of the last qualifying round. In fact, we were the last team in the world to qualify.

Now, with one game to go against Japan this week, we are on top of our group, winning five games and drawing two; scoring 10 goals with seven clean sheets – that’s seven games with no goals against.

That says a lot about how far we’ve come. The Socceroos and coach Pim Verbeek deserve enormous recognition for that.

Yesterday we officially launched Australia’s bid to host either the 2018 or 2022 World Cup.

We have embarked on a Herculean task.

Victory would fulfil our wildest dreams.

But even the worst outcome – failing to win either – unthinkable though it is, would still leave a legacy that makes embarking on this journey worthwhile: certainly for the game of football in Australia, but also for the wider community.

So we enter the battle confidently, and we enter it to win; but we enter it mindful that we will need to wrest every vote from very powerful, well qualified nations whose ambition to host the World Cup is every bit as fierce as ours.

Let me answer the naysayers upfront …

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Come Play! Online Store Coming Soon

We’ll be releasing an online store soon where you’ll be able to buy some very cool Come Play! gear. Among the items on offer will be:

  • Come Play! Supporter’s Scarf
  • Come Play! Wrist Band
  • Come Play! Mini Football
  • Come Play! Football

You’ll also be able to buy some equipment to support football in developing countries. It’s a great way to participate in Australia’s bid and make a difference where it’s needed most.

You will have the option of purchasing a Come Play! football (or more) to be sent to:

  • FFA/UNICEF projects in Africa
  • Indigenous communities in Australia
  • East Timor, OR
  • Member Associations in Oceania (other than New Zealand).

When the store launches, we’ll let Come Play! members know by email.

If you’d prefer, you can even pre-order, or reserve merchandise by phone. Just call on 02 9492 1112.

And don’t forget – a range of great Socceroos merchandise is also available from the FFA online store.…

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South Africa “fantastic”

The FFA Bid team was part of FIFA’s official Observers’ Programme for the bidding nations for the 2018-2022 FIFA World Cup, held in South Africa last week as part of the 2009 FIFA Confederations Cup.

As well as attending matches (including South Africa v Brazil semi-final), the Bid team also visited host cities, base camps, training facilities and most stadia as well as receiving tips from the Local Organising Committee from South Africa.

And the verdict?

“It will be a fantastic World Cup,” according to FFA CEO, Ben Buckley.

“We can’t speak highly enough of the facilities we visited, the people we met and the atmosphere generated by local supporters at the games.

“It was clear to us that the local people are very excited about hosting next year’s FIFA World Cup and it will be a wonderful experience for players, supporters, media and fans alike.”

Buckley said the visit also provided an opportunity to settle details for the Qantas Socceroos pre-tournament training base as well as the base camp once the FIFA World Cup is underway.

 …

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The rising Qantas Socceroos

Australia has rocketed up the charts today, achieving a ranking of 16 in the latest FIFA rankings today.

It is the highest Australia has ever been placed in FIFA’s international ratings system which ranks 203 member nations of FIFA.

“We are delighted at this news,” said Football Federation Australia (FFA) CEO, Ben Buckley.

“Rankings are not the ‘be all and end all’ of football but they are certainly an indicator of our progress.

“The more competitive games we play, the greater the opportunity to improve our position in the world rankings and the more match hardened the team becomes.

“This is a great reward for the Qantas Socceroos form in the qualifying rounds for the 2010 FIFA World Cup.

“Once again, we congratulate Pim Verbeek and the players for their efforts.”

The Qantas Socceroos became the second team to qualify for the 2010 FIFA World Cup (excluding the host nation) in early June, and finished the fourth stage of qualification with 6 wins and 2 draws against strong rivals Japan, Qatar, Bahrain and Uzbekistan.

Buckley said he had recently returned from a brief trip to South Africa and said that it will be a “fantastic” tournament.

“We can’t speak highly enough of the facilities we visited, the people we met and the atmosphere generated by local supporters at the games.”

32 countries compete in the FIFA World Cup which will take place in South Africa from 11 June – 11 July next year.

Australia will know its opponents in the group stage at the Final Draw in Cape Town on 4 December.…

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