The FIFA World Cup in 2002 will be held jointly in Japan and South Korea, FIFA officials decided May 31 at their executive meeting in Zurich, Switzerland.
A decision on the host country was to have been made after another meeting June 1, but FIFA president Joao Havelange of Brazil announced that he had received a letter from the Japanese F.A. expressing a willingness to consider co-hosting soccer's biggest event.
Havelange proposed that a specialist group led by senior vice-president Guillermo Canedo of Mexico and vice-president Antonio Matarrese of Italy make "a detailed study of all aspects of the project," and report back to FIFA by its December executive meeting in Barcelona
FIFA also awarded the 1999 Women's World Cup to the U.S., capping more than a year of efforts by U.S. Soccer to meet FIFA's bid guidelines for hosting the 16-team tourney.
"As host...for the 1994 World Cup, U.S. Soccer helped stage the most successful international soccer event in history," said U.S. Soccer President Alan Rothenberg. "While hosting the Women's World Cup will require an entirely different approach than the staging of World Cup USA '94, we plan to take advantage of all the resources available to us to ensure the 1999 event establishes a new benchmark for women's international soccer."
Originally, several countries had expressed interest in hosting the tournament, but the U.S. bid was the only official one submitted to FIFA.
"The fact that no other country submitted a formal proposal to FIFA underscores the growing respect the U.S. has of other national associations," said Hank Steinbrecher, U.S. Soccer's general secretary and executive director. "Not only are our national teams, both men and women, among the best in the world, but we are recognized for our ability to conduct an event in a way no other country has shown."
Beginning this summer, U.S. Soccer will begin to collaborate with FIFA on venues, budget issues, marketing, and other organizatinal matters for the June 1999 tournament.
"This is another significant step forward for the continued development of women's soccer in the U.S." said women's national team coach Tony DiCicco. "Adding women's soccer in as an Olympic sport in 1996 was a great milestone. Hosting FIFA's showcase women's event will provide incentive for many players to work even harder to develop their skills for the opportunity to represent the U.S. when we serve as host of the 1999 Women's World Cup."
After a 55-minute discussion on the issue of matches played at high altitudes, and a report from the FIFA Sports Medical Committee, it was decided that for World Cup qualifying matches, teams visiting La Paz, Bolivia (which is 4000 meters above sea level) should be enabled to arrive at least ten days before the game.
No further measures were taken against Nigeria, which was suspended by the AFC for two African Nations Cup tournaments.
Bosnia will be granted full membership in FIFA, but Palestine will remain a provisional member.