Australia talks World Cup changes and 2018 bid

Football Federation Australia CEO, John O'Neill, would like to see FIFA change the World Cup playoff schedule so that the fifth-ranked Asian side is pitted against the leading Oceania team. Asia is currently entitled to four-and-a-half spots in the finals, with the top four teams qualifying automatically and the fifth playing off home and away against the fourth-placed nation from North and Central America (CONCACAF). In that playoff last year, Trinidad and Tobago narrowly pipped Asian side Bahrain for a place in Germany 2006.

"I think Oceania would see it as being attractive, I think Asia would see it as being attractive and when you think about the location of CONCACAF and the location of CONMEBOL (South America) those two playing would also make sense," he said after the announcement of the friendly international between Greece and Australia in Melbourne on 25 May.

O'Neill also said Australia's best hope of hosting a World Cup final down the track will be to pitch it as an Asia-Pacific bid. FIFA has a continental rotation system, with Asia hosting the 2002 finals in Japan and South Korea, followed by Europe (Germany in 2006) and Africa (South Africa in 2010). South American powerhouse Brazil is understood to be well-placed to get the nod for 2014.

The 2018 finals might come too early for Australia, but O'Neill told AAP newsagency it could improve its chances by hosting other events such as the women's World Cup or a FIFA Congress.

"The size of the World Cup would mean that all the state governments would have to come in under the one umbrella, not compete against each other, and you'd need significant federal government support as well," he said. "I don't think we would be in a lot of people's minds in terms of 2018 but I think we've got to put ourselves in their minds. And even if we miss out on 2018, put a stake in the ground for 2022."