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FIFA Decides 2010 Hosts, May 15


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Mgebisa probably has the handle on most of what is going on, but I think there are more sinister and corrupt forces at work than we can even imagine[xx(].

The FIFA Executive Committee vote is secret, we can only guess at how the 24 (or 25 if Blatter has to break a tie) will vote on the 15th, unless there is an expose like Dempsey caused with his scandalous behaviour last time. In a post about a month ago, I made a guess at how the votes will go for each of the 25, and this article pretty well confirms it. Obviously, it will be the votes from the two Americas that will swing the vote, and so it is probably a good idea that Mandela and Tutu are making the trip to Trinidad. After all, how can you not like Mandela?


Race to host soccer spectacle steeped in intrigue

Mzimasi Mgebisa

STANDING at the Johannesburg International Airport departure terminal this week , Danny Jordaan, the 2010 World Cup Bid chief executive, muttered : "We have to be cautiously optimistic over the next fortnight."

Jordaan was bound for Trinidad and Tobago with former president Nelson Mandela and Archbishop Desmond Tutu to attend the congress of the Confederation of North, Central American and Caribbean Football Associations (Concacaf).

"Cautiously optimistic" comes from the man who has been driving South Africa's bid for both 2006 and 2010. These sobering words come from a figure who has been insisting that South Africa are favourites to host the 2010 World Cup, perhaps forgetting that Morocco have travelled this route four times before.

With 13 days to go before Sepp Blatter, the Fifa president, announces the host country for the 2010 World Cup, it is perhaps appropriate that South Africa embraces Jordaan's "cautiously optimistic" words.

South Africa's record over the past decade in hosting major international events is undisputed. The country has successfully managed the 1995 Rugby World Cup, the 1996 African Nations Cup finals, the 1999 All-Africa Games, the 2002 World Summit on Sustainable Development and the 2003 Cricket World Cup.

There is no question that South Africa can manage a safe and successful event. However, the political and commercial interests behind these decisions often throw logic out of the window.

It must be said that South Africa, through the South African Football Association (Safa), has continuously failed to master the politics of international football.

In July 2000, when Germany was awarded the 2006 rights, Jordaan and Irvin Khoza, the bid chairperson, came unstuck. Many of us were furious with New Zealander Charles Dempsey, who abstained from voting for South Africa, thus handing Germany the mantle.

However, Dempsey was not the issue. South Africa failed to secure a single vote from Asia, whose four votes were decisive. The Asian Football Confederation (AFC) had agreed to vote en bloc, as they normally do. They were bitter that Blatter refused them a fifth place at the 2002 World Cup, which they hosted.

Knowing that Blatter ascended to power through his promise for an African World Cup, they wanted to damage the Fifa president's reputation. So they sided with Germany, and South Africa was "collateral damage".

Also, the all-powerful Europe, who also voted en bloc, had agreed to exchange a World Cup berth for Asia's support for Germany, thus allowing a European country to play off with an Asian nation for a place at the 2002 Korea/Japan World Cup.

This excludes the financial benefits from the German World Cup bidding committee, and money paid by Bayern Munich to play friendly matches in various voting countries, as exposed by a German newspaper.

Then during the Fifa presidential elections at the Korea/Japan event, Safa voted for Blatter, reneging on their promise to Cameroonian Issa Hayatou, an unforgiving man.

Jordaan, who was kept at bay by both Safa president Molefi Oliphant and his vice-president Irvin Khoza, was furious, but preferred not to rock the boat.

Hayatou has not forgotten.

Hayatou, who refused to commit Caf to choose between South Africa and Morocco four years ago, is known to have close ties with Morocco. In fact, after his re-election for the umpteenth time as Caf president in Tunisia in January, Hayatou said their faith would not go unrewarded.

Jordaan believes that if South Africa gets two votes from Africa's four, and four from Europe's eight, then they will be halfway to victory. However, it's not that simple.

Botswana's Ishmael Bhamjee has admitted his bitterness at being set up by Safa. The association persuaded him to campaign for the Caf presidency, then voted for Hayatou. Safa could have sacrificed a potential vote for Oliphant's election to the Caf vice-presidency.

Bhamjee may reconsider, after being treated in lavish style for two weeks in Durban. But Tunisian Slim Aloulou will align with neighbours Morocco after his country has been eliminated, while Mali's Amadou Diakite will follow Hayatou, whichever way he goes.

French President Jacques Chirac told President Thabo Mbeki during the latter's state visit to Paris last October that Michel Platini's vote will go to Morocco. If Platini, the man Blatter hopes will be his successor in 2007, votes for Morocco, then guess where Blatter's vote will go?

Spain's Angel Maria Villar Llona will follow his government's decree that he votes for Morocco.

In January, Jordaan and Khoza said Real Madrid, the Spanish flagship, would play a game against Bafana Bafana. We, the media, foolishly bought that story.

It did not make sense. Why would Florentino Perez, the Madrid president, snub the very government and monarchy which have supported his club since the times of the dictator General Franco?

The Spanish government, like the French among other European states, stands to benefit through construction and civil engineering contracts should Morocco win the bid.

Perez owns the biggest construction company in Spain, which employs 65 000 people around the world, and has a US$4 billion (about R27,36 billion) annual revenue.

Since his company stands to benefit from Morocco's $500 million construction kitty, why would he enhance the South African bid by bringing Real Madrid to Johannesburg? It did not make sense.

Even when 15 Moroccans were arrested in Spain following the Madrid bombings which killed 200 people, the Spanish government did not utter a single unsavoury word towards their Moroccan counterparts. Instead, like the rest of the world, they condemned the acts of the alleged perpetrators.

While German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder has assured Mbeki of his support, through Gerhard Mayer-Vorvelder, the destination of the remaining five European votes have remained a secret.

Europe could be divided not by South African interests, but rather by their own interests.

Blatter's evasive reply to a simple question on Monday said one thing: there are no favourites. Asked if the instability in the Middle East would affect the North African countries, he said: "We live in a disturbed world, and I hope we can make it a better world through football."

Jordaan's cautious optimism is the way to go. After all, this is a $3 billion investment. Sentiments count for nothing.

-Mgebisa is the editor of sabcsport. co.za and presenter of SABC Sport

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My bet is that Bladder need not vote, as South Africa will garner just enough to go to prevent a second or third ballot. I expect that Bladder would vote for South Africa to expunge the blot on his "honour" for failure to deliver 2006 to SA, but who knows?

Morocco has been coming on gangbusters the past six months, and only hit a small bump with the Madrid bombings: Rothenberg (Chairman of USA 1994), their paid adviser, has been armtwisting or worse in the background.

If it goes to a second or third ballot, Morocco could prevail, as I expect all of Egypt's and Tunisia's votes would go to them.

South Africa 13

GRONDONA, Julio H. Argentina

WILL, David H. Scotland

JOHANSSON, Lennart Sweden ????????????????

WARNER, Jack A. Trinidad and Tobago (friends with Rothenberger, but Baltter's most important side-kick)

LINSI, Urs Dr., FIFA General Secretary

SASSO SASSO, Isaac David Costa Rica (two names, he's got to be good!)

TEIXEIRA, Ricardo Terra Brazil (nephew of Havelange, part of Blatter mafia)

LEOZ, Nicolás, Dr. Paraguay

BHAMJEE, Ismaïl Botswana

KOLOSKOV, Viacheslav Dr. Russia

Harvey, Ron Australia

MAYER-VORFELDER, Gerhard Germany

BLAZER, Chuck United States ? (A Warner and Bladder crony, but he is also Rothenberg's business partner)

Morocco 7

OGURA, Junji Japan

PLATINI, Michel France

D'HOOGHE, Michel Dr. Belgium

VILLAR LLONA, Angel Maria Spain

DIAKITE, Amadou Mali

CHUNG, Mong-Joon Dr. Korea Republic (anti-Blatter)

MAKUDI, Worawi Thailand

Egypt 3

HAYATOU, Issa Cameroon (lives in Cairo, home of CAF, threatened by power of southern half of Africa)

BIN HAMMAM, Mohamed Qatar

ERZIK, Senes Turkey

Tunisia 1

ALOULOU, Slim Tunisia (natch...great name!)

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Guest Jeffery S.

Very good analysis on the Spain side of things re Morocco, including analyzing the recent terrorist angle; the new government is using their support for Morocco to get tradebacks as well, like in immigration policy, plus security questions. It is all about bilateral politics in this case, though the Florentino Perez construction company bit is not really relevant, a ton of other companies could well benefit, as could the French even more, with strong commercial ties.

I personally would be a bit worried about either option, but certainly for filling stadiums any of the northern African options are better as Euro fans could travel easily and more cheaply.

My guess is that S. Africa will pull it off.

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Putting all the politics aside (it's all blah blah blah to me), who deserves to win? I'm glad that Africa is getting their chance, but I really don't know what the best choice of country is.

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Well, here's some non-political developments....



SA lead 2010 race

The World Cup will be held on African soil for the first time in 2010

South Africa's hopes of hosting the 2010 World Cup were given a major boost on Tuesday after Fifa inspectors rated their facilities as the best of five competing countries.

A 94-page technical evaluation report described South Africa's bid as "excellent" with those of north African rivals Egypt and Morocco termed "very good".

The report said: "Despite questions about security in the country, the legacy compared to the investment needed will be a great contribution to the country.

"The inspection group's opinion is that South Africa has the potential to organise an excellent World Cup."

This boost for South Africa comes just a fortnight before the final vote to determine the 2010 hosts is taken by Fifa's executive committee in Zurich on 15 May.

"If the World Cup is granted to South Africa, it will generate significant unity among the different ethnic groups that were separated socially, culturally and in sport for years," the Fifa report added.

The report said that there also was the potential for an excellent World Cup in Egypt, but added that the country was capable only of organising a "very good" event.

It pointed to Egypt's wealth of history, culture and tourism, and concluded that despite the lack of appropriate stadia to host an event of this size, Egypt was "capable of organising a very good World Cup".

Morocco, widely thought to be neck-and-neck with South Africa in the race to win the right to host the first World Cup in Africa, suffered a major blow by having questions raised over the country's lack of infrastructure.

Morocco have been ranked behind South Africa and Egypt.

Fifa said it was concerned that work had not begun on three stadiums which Morocco said four years ago were already under construction.

"We do have some concern that three stadiums presented to the 2006 Inspection Group in February 2000 as under construction have not been realised at all," the report said.

The report appeared to represent the end of the road for the final two contenders, Tunisia and Libya, who were presenting a joint bid.

While Tunisia, who hosted and won the African Nations Cup in February, had the potential to put on "a good" World Cup if they went it alone, Libya would face "great difficulties" meeting the required standards, Fifa said.

It highlighted Libya's lack of experience in hosting international sporting events, insufficient preparation time and lack of accommodation as key drawbacks in their bid.

All five candidates will have a final chance to present their cases the day before the final vote is held on 15 May.

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