Even though Australia has traditionally had a fierce sporting rivalry with England stemming from the country’s historical colonial links to Britain, Australia’s soccer chief James Johnson has described England’s decision to vote against the ultimately successful trans-Tasman bid for the 2023 Women’s World Cup as hugely “disrespectful”.
The harsh statement came after the English FA Chairman Greg Clarke voted for Colombia at the FIFA Council meeting as part of a block voting decision by European governing body UEFA.
Australia and New Zealand’s bid won with 22 votes to 13 but Football Federation Australia boss Johnson was unimpressed by England’s snub.
“I think that was quite disrespectful to be perfectly honest with you,” Johnson declared to some Australian media.
A report by world governing body FIFA rated the joint Australia-New Zealand bid as the best to host the tournament, with a score of 4.1 points out of five, while Colombia received a rating of 2.8.
“It was a process that was ... run very well by FIFA ... we scored very highly on a report that was objective,” added Johnson.
“We know now what the voting was like, and I must say we are disappointed with the way that the FA voted.”
UEFA said its Council members had voted for Colombia because they could clearly see more development potential for the women’s game in South America.
“It was a choice between two countries – Australia and New Zealand – where women’s football is already strongly established, and a continent where it still has to be firmly implanted and has huge development potential,” UEFA said in a statement.
Australian media were also quick to cast the English FA vote as a complete betrayal.
“A closer inspection of the voting revealed a villain in England’s Football Association boss Greg Clarke,” News Corp media wrote in its coverage of the vote.