In a major coup, Football Federation Australia have engaged one of football's foremost political strategists to help their bid to bring the World Cup to Australia in either 2018 or 2022.
The World Game can exclusively reveal that Peter Hargitay, one time special advisor to FIFA president Sepp Blatter, and still a close confidant of football's global boss, is now on the FFA payroll as its most important strategy consultant.
Hargitay's Zurich-based firm, European Consultancy Network (ECN), was engaged earlier this year before Hargitay flew to Sydney in February for three days of summit talks with the FFA's top brass on bid strategy.
Hargitay, a Swiss national who also has offices in the EU and Beijing, was Blatter's special advisor between 2002 and 2007 when he left that post after his firm was hired by the FA to help them with the England World Cup bid.
But after five months, with Lord Triesman appointed new chairman of the English body, the FA and ECN parted company and England's loss became Australia's gain.
Hargitay's inside knowledge of FIFA's political mechanics and his network of powerful contacts are considerable.
He is well acquainted with every member of FIFA's executive committee, the 24-man body which will vote on the bid decision in December next year.
Confirming the relationship, FFA chief executive Ben Buckley told The World Game: "Peter Hargitay's company, ECN, is one of a number of Australian and international consultants FFA has engaged to support our bid for the 2018/2022 FIFA World Cup.
"ECN has unique experience and expertise with FIFA and in world football, and particularly in providing high level strategic and networking advice and counsel.
"We are very fortunate to have him personally and ECN working for Australia's bid."
This week, as part of the bid process, the Australian ambassador in Cairo, where football glitterati gathered for the FIFA Under 20 World Cup, hosted a special reception for the FFA to celebrate Australia's World Cup bid.
It was attended by FIFA president Blatter, secretary general Jerome Valcke, vice-president Jack Warner and a host of world football heavyweights.
ECN drew up the guest list and handled the invitations.
Also among ECN's clients is AFC president Mohamed bin Hammam, to whom Peter Hargitay is special advisor.