[WORLD CUP 2018/22 BIDS] In a largely favorable report, FIFA nevertheless labeled the USA a "medium legal risk" to host the 2022 World Cup because "the necessary government support has not been documented." It is the only serious contender for the 2018 or 2022 World Cup to not have such government support.
(Click here for the executive summaries of the nine bidders FIFA released on Wednesday.)
The publication of the executive summaries of the nine bidding nations for the 2018 and 2022 World Cups on Wednesday comes a day before FIFA, according to the Wall Street Journal, is expected to announce that its ethics committee has cleared Nigeria's Amos Adamu and Tahiti's Reynald Temarii, accused of trying to sell their votes, on the grounds that they were entrapped by Sunday Times reporters posing as fake lobbyists representing U.S. interests.
FIFA labeled the USA a "medium legal risk" to host the 2022 World Cup because "the necessary government support has not been documented as neither the Government Guarantees, the Government Declaration nor the Government Legal Statement have been provided in compliance with FIFA's requirements for government documents."
(The only other bidders that were not marked as a "low legal risk" was 2018 bidder Belgium-Netherlands and 2022 outsider Japan, both deemed a "medium legal risk" for the same reasons.)
The report goes on to note, however, that the USA has a long history of successfully organizing major events and U.S. government has "considerable experience in supporting the hosting and staging of major sports events and has proven its willingness to make material concessions, accommodate the concerns of event organizers." The U.S. government intends to enact the necessary legislation by June 1, 2013.
“We have been in conversations with FIFA about this," U.S. bid committee executive director David Downs told Bloomberg, "and they are comfortable with the situation."
A Congressional declaration of support is expected to be passed during the lame-duck session of Congress.
The USA bid committee submitted a budget of $661.2 million for the 2011 Confederations Cup and 2012 World Cup and projected 4,957,000 sellable tickets for the World Cup. (The next highest among the 2022 bidders is Japan with 3,280,000 sellable tickets.)
In face of intense competition from four bidders from the Asian confederation and political pressures that are viewed as working against the USA's 2022 bid, any concerns in the inspection reports are distracting as the clock ticks down to the Dec. 2 executive committee meeting at which the 2018 and 2022 hosts will be decided.
(As a Washington political story, Politico's Ben Smith took the dark view and noted that "domestic politics and the midterm election may imperil the U.S. World Cup bid.")
Of the four U.S. competitors for 2022, the country that received the harshest criticism in the executive summaries was Qatar as "the fact that the competition is planned in June/July, the two hottest months of the year in this region, has to be considered as a potential health risk for players, officials, the FIFA family and spectators, and requires precautions to be taken."
According to the various reports, Qatar was given a "high" overall operational risk in a confidential report judging 17 separate categories issued to the executive committee. Russia, which is bidding for the 2018 World Cup, was the only country to receive a "medium" evaluation. All other countries received a "low" overall evaluation.
Because of their distance from Europe, South Korea, Japan and Australia -- the three other 2018 competitors -- were all marked down for the risk of a reduction in TV income and, as a result, commercial revenue from Europe.
By contrast, the FIFA inspectors noted in USA executive summary noted that "the TV ratings and media rights income in the Americas are likely to be higher at a USA-hosted World Cup."