IF any FIFA inspection members paused long enough during their Koala-cuddling whistlestop tour this week to grab a copy of the local edition of English mag FourFourTwo, they would have had to flick a long way back - page 89 of the 92 in fact - to find significant mention of the 2022 World Cup bid.
This is cause for embarrassment, but not on the part of the magazine, which was out a few days before the FIFA team landed in Sydney. Their interview with FFA boss Ben Buckley was so predictably dire the only surprise to me is 442 bothered with it at all. I assume if they had 150 pages, it would have been on 147.
At a time when the non-believers in Australia find excuses why we don't need this tournament Down Under, we require, at the helm of football, an inspirational leader. Someone able, through power of personality, to unify the country behind the game. Or least be bothered enough to have a go at it. Someone with passion. What we need is a suit who talks like a fan. Like John O'Neill perhaps - who saw which way the wind was blowing and gave us Guus Hiddink in 2005. What we have is a suit who talks like a suit, from Vinnies. Who gave us Pim Verbeek.
Buckley's performance at the World Cup itself, when trying to dampen down rumours of Australian team disharmony, but instead turning it into international news, was emblematic. Smiling serenely and avoiding the real questions in text book "look how I've been coached to deal with the media" style he did nothing to make the rumours go away. The only purpose of the whole stage-managed event seemed to be framing Buckley as leader - but it was all style, never about substance. His every word can be found in the management manuals clogging up your local book chain. The jaw is moving but what ever gets said?
I found the 442 reaction to Buckley's latest missed opportunity to raise passions within the heartland interesting. "FourFourTwo spoke to ... Buckley and garnered about as much information as someone with an internet connection and the ability to type 'Australia World Cup' bid into Google." Nice line. Their dissatisfaction seemed to be that Buckley had nothing to say to them. My belief is Buckley just has nothing to say to any of us.
The magazine I edit, Football+, was seeking to do a big feature for our new edition, talking up our World Cup bid with interviews with Buckley and Frank Lowy.
Our Associate Editor, Matthew Hall, requested some face time with the pair in South Africa. When they belatedly responded we were granted, instead, the opportunity to send in some questions via email which they might reply to if they had time. Judging by the fruits of 442's 15-minute hard labour, we made the right decision to decline.
If the two people charged with spending $40 million of government money couldn't work up the enthusiasm to spruik up their bid and rally hundreds of thousands of committed football fans - those who spent a deal of money buying Football+ and 442 and the other football mags before the World Cup - then why should we be that bothered?
Had they figured that if Bill Clinton was giving interviews about 2022, when not cosying up to Sepp Blatter, there was not really much point wasting their breath?
Soccer Australia, or the FFA as they are now known, have had some, well, colourful people at the helm, and I'm not suggesting Buckley needs to tread down those same dim alleyways. But something more showy, something more alive, something more "Sepp" might not be a bad thing.
I wonder what Blatter makes of Buckley. And our bid. I'd like to ask Buckley about his relationship with Sepp, and plenty more besides. Like what will he do if we lose the bid and the A-League crowds and finances continue to fall this year. But even if he would pick up the phone, I'm not sure he has that much to say.