Cost of World Cup failure far-reaching

Nov 14, 2017

A nation's reputation. $12.5 million in cash. Priceless publicity.

That's what's at stake should the Socceroos fail to qualify for a fourth consecutive World Cup.

Lose to Honduras, or draw with any other scoreline than 0-0 at ANZ Stadium on Wednesday night, and the ramifications will reverberate far wider than the 11 men on the field in green and gold.

Immediately, the focus will centre around the future of coach Ange Postecoglou following a month of intense speculation he will walk either way it goes.

In the longer term, the fallout will bite Football Federation Australia's fiscal bottom line at a time it can least afford it.

Just for qualifying, Australia would receive a major cash windfall.

All teams that make Russia 2018 are provided US$1.5 million (A$2 million) by FIFA to cover preparation costs, along with a further US$8 million (A$10.5 million) for contesting the group phase - minus player payments and significant logistical costs.

Advance further, as Guus Hiddink's golden generation did in Germany 2006, and the figure rises exponentially.

US$12 million (A$15.7 million) to make the round of 16 and US$16 million (A$21 million) for a quarter-finals berth.

This is one element - and a big one at that given FFA's financial struggles that have contributed to the local game's state of flux.

But the governing body will also be banking on the international exposure that comes with participating in the world's showpiece tournament, the best kind for marketing the game in Australia.

On the flipside, coming up short won't just mean a lack of eyeballs but also a hit to the reputation of a national team that has qualified for three consecutive campaigns.

That wouldn't be pretty for FFA, which is already fighting fires on multiple fronts and under siege from furious A-League clubs over the drawn-out congress spat set to boil over in the coming weeks.

Of course, the game is thriving in other areas - the Matildas have deservedly leapt into the limelight and brought the W-League with them.

Whether that would be enough to offset Australia's absence from a World Cup gets a different answer depending who's asked.

Postecoglou, for one, was adamant the sport would survive.

"For the game, it's always important that you're there when the World Cup is played," Postecoglou said.

"You saw Italy miss out this morning and you realise the impact that has.

"But not qualifying doesn't mean the game ceases to exist.

"It's more about our continued growth, and as I've said all along, we've got to be really ambitious in the way we approach international football and wanting to qualify and wanting do well at a World Cup."

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