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World Cup 2018/2022 bid report
by Paul Kennedy, February 24th, 2009 8AM


(Soccer America continues ongoing coverage of the 2018/2022 World Cup bid process.)

By Paul Kennedy, Editor in Chief

Beheading remark stirs controversy

POLITICS FIX. The war of words over Asian Football Confederation (AFC) president Mohammed Bin Hammam's seat on the FIFA executive committee reached a new level when the Korea Football Association threatened to file a complaint about Bin Hammam with FIFA after he said he was ready to cut off the head of Cho Jung-Yeon, the KFA president.

The KFA is leading a campaign to back Bahrain's Shaikh Salman bin Ebrahim Al Khalifa in his bid to unseat Bin Hammam on FIFA's executive committee.

"We strongly criticize Bin Hammam's groundless remarks insulting us and other AFC members," KFA spokesman You Young Cheul told AFP. "The KFA wants an explanation and apology from Bin Hammam over his remarks, which are improper as AFC head."

Bin Hammam said his remark was a "harmless and widely used Arabic metaphor" meaning an attempt to thwart someone's progress. He says he'll quit as AFC president if he loses his FIFA executive committee seat. Separately, he has proposed an AFC amendment that make the AFC president the Asian vice president on the FIFA executive committee -- a seat currently held by South Korean Chung Mong Joon.

Seb to the rescue?

ENGLAND. Most sports fans know Englishman Sebastian Coe as a former double Olympic track champion. He's also a political heavyweight, having spearheaded London's successful campaign to host the 2012 Olympic Games. Last week, he gave up his post as the head of FIFA's ethics committee to held England's 2018/2022 World Cup bid.

Coe's move is considered a major boost for the England bid. England is considered a favorite to win the 2018 race, but concerns have been raised about the ability of Premier League and Football Association officials to put aside their differences. England's bid for the 2006 World Cup failed badly, and it's worked to improve its international relations in recent years.

"It is ours for the winning," one senior figure told the Daily Telegraph earlier this winter, "but I worry that the politics of the FA could get in the way. It will be a huge disappointment if we don't get this thing done, but there's a chance we'll mess it up."

What They're Saying

"In the words of Barack Obama, yes we can."

-- Belgian Alain Courtois, director of the Belgium/Netherlands bid, on coming up with the $1.6 billion needed to raised for the work on stadiums for the 2018/2022 World Cup. (Reuters)

Chicago's choices include Rose Bowl

[2016 U.S. OLYMPIC VENUES] Chicago, one of four cities bidding for the 2016 Olympic Games, has named six venues for the soccer preliminary round:

Los Angeles-Rose Bowl (capacity: 93,986)
Washington-FedEx Field (capacity: 91,704)
New York-Meadowlands Stadium (capacity: 82,500)
Philadelphia-Lincoln Financial Field (capacity: 68,532)
St. Louis-Edward Jones Dome (capacity: 66,000)
Minneapolis-TCF Bank Stadium (capacity: 50,300)

Medal-round matches will be played at Soldier Field in Chicago, part of the proposed Olympic Waterfront, but matches earlier in the women's and men's tournaments would be played outside of Chicago.

(Tokyo is given a slight edge over Madrid with Chicago and Rio de Janeiro also in the race, which will be decided at an IOC meeting on Oct. 2.)

New JFA boss changes new stance

JAPAN. There appears to be some confusion about just how seriously Japan is taking its 2018/2022 World Cup bid.

Junji Ogura, Japan's representative on the FIFA executive committee, previously said that Japan's bid was conditional on Tokyo being named host of the 2016 Summer Olympics. (Japan doesn't have a stadium that meets FIFA's requirement of an 80,000-seat stadium for the opening game and final; Tokyo plans on building a 100,000-seat stadium if it gets the Olympics.)

Motoaki Inukai, who was named Japan Football Association president last fall, insisted Monday that his organization might consider a World Cup bid if Tokyo doesn't win the support of IOC members at the October meeting to pick the 2016 Olympic host.

"Even if [Tokyo's bid] fails it does not mean we will automatically pull out," Inukai said on Monday. "We will examine the possibility of hosting the World Cup independently."

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