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What we have lost


So Australia has lost its bid to host the World Cup. We are all devastated, so Julia Gillard tells us. We were robbed, so the Herald Sun tells us. We are disillusioned, Frank Lowy tells us, by the discovery that people can lie to our faces. Clearly it is time to take stock of what we as a nation have lost and to face up bravely to the depth of our dereliction.

The deepest loss of all is of our national purpose. In a single night the Holy Grail of the World Cup was transmuted to tin, the Light on the Hill of 2022 was snuffed out, the Crystal Sea that would convey worshipful hordes to Australia turned to seaweed.

(Continues below)

If we had won the World Cup, it would have been the most noble of human aspirations, this gathering of the nations to kick a round ball into a net, a prize awarded by a group of incorruptible wise men in recognition of our national worth and of our representatives' high character and straight talking. In a single night, the Word Cup was changed into a farce orchestrated by crooked, faceless men involving a foreign game. Who will dare to dream again?

Without a purpose the people die. They lose confidence in themselves. How can we ever believe again that bluff Aussie charm and simplicity will win the steeliest of foreign hearts? How can we ever again place our trust in the power of those cutesy, cuddly kangaroos and koalas to win favour? How can we ever look the world in the face again after we were tossed out after the first round with one measly vote, when even the Poms got two votes?

How can we ever trust again in the kindness of strangers when we have been so humiliated by them — we who have always treated so generously those who have come to us as strangers in need?

We have lost, too, a time for sustained broadening of our Australian culture during the time of the World Cup. We shall lose the opportunity of seeing our streets and screens flooded exclusively with the tasteful ads of the Cup sponsors. We will not be able to benefit from the special laws that would have reduced the totally superfluous rights of people not quite like us to protest, to gather, to express their individuality and to beg.

We have been deprived of months, perhaps years, of focusing on the round ball and other things that really matter. Instead, we shall have to preoccupy ourselves with trivialities like global warming, the welfare of our indigenous Australians, providing services to the less privileged of our citizens, and our contribution to our region.

Nor could anyone underestimate the loss of financial benefits that would accrue to us had the Cup been ours. We have lost the opportunity for a Financial Stimulus Package to benefit the builders of stadiums, the financial firms that arrange the finance, organisations for the gifted kickers of round balls, and every entrepreneur who can nuzzle close to the public purse.

Governments, too, will lose the chance to alienate to efficient private interests more of the unproductive parkland that blights our cities.

We of the Media mourn, too, that we shall not be able to discharge our sacred mission to provide the Public with a Narrative replete with Monsters, Saints, Victims and Heroes.

The union Monsters who threaten to leave the Cup sites unfinished by the starting day. The Aussie Heroes who battle bravely in the opening games, only be to made Victims by foreign referees. The Saints from FIFA who bless our Cup as the best ever, till the next one, and make us all Heroes for a day.

More subtly but significantly, we have also lost the Map on which things are put. With the Cup lost, Australian Soccer cannot hope to be put on the Map. Australia, alas, also loses its opportunity to be put on the Map, as do Koalas, Kookaburras, the loveable Australian People, the Australian Prime Minister, various Ministers for Sport, Premiers, Australian Rules by osmosis, the Opera House and the Arts in Australia.

All must remain in the trackless desert of anonymity, ungooglemapped, uncelebritificated, uncupped and uncapped.

The Germans have a proverb that runs like this: If you lose your money, you have lost nothing. If you lose your courage, you have lost a good deal. If you lose your reputation, you have lost everything. They only knew half of it. Lose the World Cup, as we now know, you have lost the trifecta. This is the end of the Australia of our myths.


Andrew HamiltonAndrew Hamilton is the consulting editor of Eureka Street

Topic tags: Andrew Hamilton, World Cup bid



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Existing comments

Andrew,subtle piece of writing. Unfortunately it may be wasted on our politicians and bureacrats.

vinay verma | 05 December 2010  

I smiled gently at Andrew's sardonic humour as I read through his excellent commentary. But I burst into laughter when I read Vinay Verma's comment to Andrew re his subtle piece of writing. Subtle? About as subtle as a bee sting!

More seriously, what we did lose - and we lost this all by ourselves - was any claim to sportsmanship, by our whingeing when the 2022 World Cup contest was allocated to Qatar.

And with no disrespect to Frank Lowy, if we believe the assurances we receive in pre-vote lobbying for anything at all, surely we are being somewhat naive.

Deciding on venues for the World Cup and the Olympic Games is always about politics and business, never sport. Missing out has to be accepted in a sporting manner if sport is to have any part in the process at all.

Ian Fraser | 05 December 2010  

It reminds me of satire's purpose, to show up wasteful government.

For our brothers of Subcontinental culture, 'subtlety' is great jewel as impoliteness is met with severest distaste.

Direct condemnation of the misuse of power is preferable to me when action needs to be taken for justice sake. There are limits on what can be done, but those limits do not absolve us who are conscious of the sin to act. $2 per Australian citizen was spent on the World cup campaign. I did not like to hear of this waste.

Compare with Riverview's motto, quoted from Wikipedia:
Saint Thomas Aquinas (1227–1274) entitled Lauda Sion Salvatorem('Praise, O Sion, Praise Thy Saviour'). Quantum Potes Tantum Aude Quia Maior Omni Laude, which translates to "As much as you can do, so much dare to do, because He is above all praise".

Louise J. Kellyville | 05 December 2010  

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