Bidding for next 2 World Cups turns into a circus
When it comes to the world's biggest game and the world's biggest tournament, allegations of corruption are never far behind - and often don't appear to be too far from the truth.sports Updated: Oct 28, 2010 09:41 IST
When it comes to the world's biggest game and the world's biggest tournament, allegations of corruption are never far behind - and often don't appear to be too far from the truth.
The bidding process to host the 2018 and 2022 World Cups has turned into a circus - with allegations of some FIFA executives supposedly offering to sell their votes, trash-talking and alleged vote-trading between bidding nations, and fierce arguments over which continent should get to host the 2018 event.
FIFA, the governing body of world football, is under the spotlight, and there's billions at stake and plenty of reputations on the line. Eleven countries are vying for the right to host the next two premier single-sport competitions in the world - and 24 FIFA officials get to decide who wins on Dec. 2 in Zurich.
"The awarding of the World Cup is a multibillion dollar judgment. It's huge. It doesn't get any bigger than that in terms of finances in the world of sports," said Declan Hill, a Canadian investigative journalist who has published a book called "The Fix: Soccer & Organized Crime." "World Cup dominates sports. It makes the World Series and Super Bowl and all these things look like peanuts."
The latest FIFA scandal is akin to the one that rocked the Olympics, when IOC members took bribes to vote for Salt Lake City as host of the 2002 Winter Games. That led to some big changes in the International Olympic Committee's voting system.
But at FIFA, it appears that votes are still for sale. And that will be likely to be on the agenda Thursday and Friday when the executive committee meets in Zurich.
England, Russia, Belgium-Netherlands and Spain-Portugal are in the running for the 2018 World Cup, while the United States, Australia, Japan, South Korea and Qatar are looking to host the tournament in 2022. This is the first time that two World Cups have been decided at the same time - a potential bonanza for would-be vote sellers or traders.
Earlier this month, The Sunday Times in London released footage of interviews with FIFA executives Amos Adamu of Nigeria and Reynald Temarii of Tahiti appearing to offer their votes for sale. The ethics committee provisionally suspended both until Novmber 17 - meaning they could still vote on December 2.
"The information in the article has created a very negative impact on FIFA and on the bidding process for the 2018 and 2022 World Cups," FIFA President Sepp Blatter, speaking shortly after the reports emerged, said in his standard understated way.
Soon after, however, other reports alleged that former FIFA general secretary Michel Zen-Ruffinen said Spain-Portugal and Qatar had struck a deal giving each seven votes from the 24-man FIFA executive committee for their respective tournaments.