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A glorious day for Australian sport

Soccer

In a few short moments, football in this country has gone from struggle and doubt to celebrating one of the greatest days in the nation’s sporting history, writes Spiro Karanikos-Mimis.

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I won’t lie – I didn’t watch the announcement.

That’s probably not something you want to admit when you write about football, but my post-traumatic stress disorder took over.

I had heard news that UEFA had lobbied for delegates to vote for Colombia and I thought it was over. That, again, Australia would miss out.

It was 1997 and 2010 all over. Australia vs Iran. The 2022 bid.

I couldn’t live through another traumatic experience.

Gary Lineker once said: “Football is a simple game – 22 men chase a ball for 90 minutes and at the end, the Germans always win.”

In Australia, that famous quote is often shared among football fanatics with a few small changes: “Football is a simple game – 22 players chase the ball for 90 minutes and at the end, Australia loses.”

Well, not this time. We will see a World Cup, on home soil, in our lifetime.

I feel like it’s a dream.

After waking up to a score of messages on my phone, I jumped on Twitter and saw the footage of Australia’s bid team jumping with joy and embracing (bugger the pandemic, we deserved those hugs).

Then, I fathomed it.

Today is a magnificent moment for Australian sport.

Not just women’s sport. Not just for soccer or even just women’s soccer.

Australian sport. Full stop.

State and federal governments have already started announcing additional funding for football.

FIFA said this morning it has earmarked a billion dollars for women’s football over the next few years.

What a blessing for our game, which was truly on its knees just a few weeks ago.

The Australian bid promised an expanded W-League competition (both in teams and fixtures) – something the game deserves.

And to those who want to argue that it’s just the women’s World Cup – well, I’m not sure I can write what I’m actually thinking.

The Women’s World Cup is huge. Do not underestimate it.

For the 2019 edition, held in France, the average crowd was just under 22,000.

FIFA estimates that it was watched by a global audience of more than a billion.

For a long time, arguably, the pinnacle for Australian football was simply qualifying for the men’s World Cup.

It was the late Johnny Warren that said: “We should not just aim to qualify for the World Cup, we should aim to win the World Cup.”

Now, as hosts in 2023, this could well be achieved.

I’m always proud to be a football fan here in Australia.

Today, I walk just a little taller.

PS: you can view the voting results here.

Spiro Karanikos-Mimis is InDaily’s soccer columnist.

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