Tournament chief executive Michael Brown believes Australia’s successful hosting of the Asian Cup national team football tournament demonstrates the country is equipped to stage the Fifa World Cup.
Australia triumphed 2-1 in extra time over South Korea in Saturday’s final, which was played out before a packed Stadium Australia in Sydney.
A bid for the 2022 World Cup garnered a solitary vote but Brown, who previously served as general manager of cricket operations during nine years with Cricket Australia, thinks the nation’s track record in hosting major events, alongside a well-received Asian Cup, bodes well for the future.
He told the Reuters news agency: “I’ve no doubt we could, it's a whole different level of organisation but we've done Olympic Games, we've done Commonwealth Games. We could. Will it happen? That's out of my hands. But I think one of the things we should have done is won a lot of respect for the way we've put on this event. I hope that we can go to the next level. Whatever's down the track for this sport, I think it's well ready.”
Brown was set a low-end target of 355,000 ticket sales across the Asian Cup’s 32 matches and an official goal of 500,000 – figures that were comfortably surpassed with the help of reduced ticket prices for youngsters ahead of the final, where an attendance of 76,385 lifted the overall number of people through the turnstiles to 650,446.
This number outstripped the 421,000 that attended the previous edition of the Asian Cup in Qatar four years ago. Australia matches brought in a total of 380,000 fans, while Brown also outlined substantial economic benefits enjoyed by the host nation.
“This Asian Cup has been a nation-building exercise in every sense of the term,” Brown added in a statement released by tournament organisers. “Its benefits will be felt for many years to come. It has significantly reinforced the positive perceptions about Australia throughout Asia, attracted tens of thousands of tourists and delivered an estimated A$23m (€15.2m/$18.9m) boost to Australia’s GDP.
“Our business matching program, carried out in conjunction with Austrade, is already opening many new doors for Australian companies throughout Asia.”