Thursday, January 6, 2011
Sydney beats Melbourne for soccer final
Melburnians might think they live in Australia's sporting capital but the city has missed out on hosting the Asian Cup soccer final in 2015.However, Victorian Premier Ted Baillieu insists he is not worried that Sydney is likely to host the final after it was announced in the early hours of Thursday that Australia would stage the tournament."I think we've got to understand that this is an Australian event, it's going to be good for Australian soccer," Mr Baillieu told reporters on Thursday."I don't think we're going to be ungracious about that, this is an Australian event, we'll play an important part of it."Mr Baillieu announced on Thursday that Melbourne would host the opening ceremony and first match at Docklands Stadium.A Football Federation Australian (FFA) spokesman said nothing was definite but Sydney was partly favoured for the final because the 80,000-capacity Olympic Stadium would be available while the Melbourne Cricket Ground was not part of the city's plans.Docklands Stadium, which holds about 50,000, and the 30,000-seat stadium at Olympic Boulevard will stage games in Melbourne.The tournament will be held in January 2015 and will feature the 16 top teams in Asia with matches to be played in Melbourne, Sydney, Canberra, the Gold Coast and Brisbane."It has an enormous audience, it attracts a great spectator contingent and we can expect a huge influx of visitors, of media and of course some of the elite of football across the world," Mr Baillieu said.The uncontested bid was rubber-stamped by the Asian Football Confederation in Doha.The event has the potential to add $23 million to Australia's gross domestic product and attract 45,000 overseas visitors, according to consultants PricewaterhouseCoopers Coopers who were commissioned by the FFA.Taxpayers have forked out $61 million for the tournament - half from the Commonwealth government with the balance shared among the host regions - Queensland, NSW, the ACT and Victoria.The tournament is the second-most important for Australian soccer after the World Cup and hosting it is some consolation after losing the 2022 bid, former Socceroo and Melbourne Victory player Kevin Muscat said."If we cast our mind back to when we qualified for the World Cup for the first time in a number of years in Germany and the impact it had on young kids and football in this country," he told reporters.The 2011 Asian Cup takes place this month in Qatar.