CONSPIRACY theorists might believe otherwise, but AFL boss Andrew Demetriou stresses that the AFL did not attempt to scupper efforts to bring the major football code in the world Down Under.
It could be equated to Daniel stepping into the lions' den but Demetriou did not bat an eyelid as he took centre stage at a Melbourne Victory In Business lunch at Crown, in which he fronted more than 900 corporate supporters of the FFA's biggest club.
And he moved quickly to assure some of his biggest critics that the AFL had not schemed to undermine Australia's bid to bring the World Cup to these shores as it recognised the sporting and economic value of hosting the world's biggest event.
''We were not popping champagne corks. We were as disappointed as everyone else that this country and this state was not going to be able to host games,'' he said.
Demetriou said that as a young man he had always tuned in to television coverage of the English game, marvelling at the intensity of the Liverpool-Manchester United clashes.
Demetriou praised Victory for the inroads it had made on the social, business and sporting landscape and suggested that competition - from within and from rival codes - was good for a sport.
And purists in the room would have been delighted to note that the AFL supremo referred to his own code as ''Aussie rules'' and the round ball game as football.