Today we are joined by Bonita Mersiades
, former Head of Public Affairs with the Football Federation Australia, and author of Whatever It Takes: The Inside Story of the FIFA Way
(Powderhouse Press, 2018). In our conversation, we discussed the 2018/2022 Australian World Cup bid, the future of global football, and the FIFA way.
In Whatever It Takes
, Mersiades offers an insiders account into the Australian bid, unpacking the political and personal ambitions that drove the process. The Football Federation Australia, one of the country ’s most powerful executives, and the Commonwealth government worked together to develop a case for an Australian World Cup. They produced an attractive sales pitch that included new stadiums across the country, partnerships with state governments, and potential celebrity endorsements from Aussie movie stars. The bid cost the Australian taxpayers over 50 million dollars, much of that money paid to consultants, but in front of the secretive Executive Committee, the their bid received only one vote.
Whatever It Takes
documents how the Australian bid failed so completely. Mersiades showcases how the Australian bid – seen by many as the dirty bid – was compromised and highlights how the World Cup bid process can implicate federation officials, journalists, and sportsmen. Mersiades’ account pulses. Few escape her vivid recollections as she deftly weaves her short chapters full with rich conversations with top FIFA officials, including Sepp Blatter; arguments with jet setting former soccer stars; interviews with journalists from around the globe; and interrogations from FBI investigators.
Anyone interested in the inner workings of sports most powerful and at times secretive organizations should read Mersiades insiders account.
Keith Rathbone is a lecturer at Macquarie University in Sydney, Australia. He researches twentieth-century French social and cultural history. His manuscript, entitled
A Nation in Play: Physical Culture, the State, and Society during France’s Dark Years, 1932-1948, examines physical education and sports in order to better understand civic life under the dual authoritarian systems of the German Occupation and the Vichy Regime. If you have a title to suggest for this podcast, please contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.