Soccer: Ballot brings humiliating defeat to Australia

Australia suffered a humiliating result in the 2022 soccer World Cup count, crashing out in the opening round in Zurich after receiving only one vote.

The Australian team had entered the final day full of confidence in securing the world's biggest sporting event only to come away bitterly disappointed.

From the 22 votes on offer, Australia only received a single ballot and not even the missing Oceania vote could have pushed the nation into the second round.

Cash-rich Qatar defied a damning evaluation report from Fifa on the oppressive heat in June and July in the tiny nation to capture the 2022 tournament.

Qatar was cleared last month in a Fifa investigation into claims of vote swapping with failed 2018 co-bidders Spain and Portugal.

In the fourth round of the 2022 vote, Qatar held off the United States by 14 votes to eight to become the first Middle East nation to host the World Cup.

Australian bid chief Frank Lowy said he was shattered even before the votes were made public.

"Australia, what can I say?" he said. "I am disappointed for you that we could not deliver the 2022 World Cup, but what can you do? We did our best and I know we could not have done anything better."

The billionaire has made it his personal quest to bring the World Cup to Australia and promised to keep fighting for the sport.

"The sun is coming up tomorrow morning," he said. "There is a great future for Australia and it is a great future for our game except we lost a bit of turbo charge.

"We have to make up for it. I am not a man to lie down. This battle has been lost there are many, many more battles to win."

The result is a setback for the game in Australia, even if Fifa's history of corruption and the voting process is certain to come under heavy scrutiny in the coming days.

England (two votes) were bundled out in the opening round of the 2018 race, won by Russia, and it is unlikely their press will take their poor result too lightly. Back in Australia, the AFL, NRL and Australian Rugby Union will be doing their best not to delight too much in the verdict in Switzerland.

In the lead-up to the vote, the 80-year-old Lowy said he didn't expect to be around to watch Australia host a World Cup if it missed out in 2022.

There might not be many of us around to ever witness the quadrennial event in Australia.

With the event rotated these days between Europe, the Americas and Africa as well, it is Asia's turn only every third World Cup at best. By that calculation, the next genuine shot for Australia may be for the 2034 or 2038 editions.

- AAP

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