Troubling news for U.S. bidders

[MY VIEW] These can't be easy times for those backing the U.S. bid to host the 2022 World Cup. If the latest revelations into the World Cup 2018/22 bid process cascading out of control are to be believed, the U.S. bid could be dead in its tracks.

Michel Zen-Ruffinen, the former FIFA general secretary, told undercover reporters from the Sunday Times posing as lobbyists working on behalf of a consortium of American companies the U.S. bid was threatened by an alliance between Spain and Qatar.

Shortly before publication of video of him talking with the Sunday Times reporters in Geneva and Cairo, Zen-Ruffinen explained much of what he had to say about the machinations were "impressions" and he had "exaggerated" his remarks to keep the American lobbyists interested, but his "impressions" were certainly damning of the process.

The lobbyists read off a list of FIFA executive committee members, and he said who was "money" -- who could be bribed.

Zen-Ruffinen named two members who could be bribed with money, a third who could be bribed with women and a fourth who was “the biggest gangster you will find on earth” and would require a minimum fee of $500,000 for his vote.

But it was the allegation that a deal between Qatar and the Spain-Portugal group was as "a fact" and had secured seven votes that must be most concerning for U.S. bidders.

"People expected a battle between Russia and England [for the 2018 World Cup],'' Zen-Ruffinen said, ''but at this stage they are very much disturbed by the alliance with Qatar because Spain starts with seven votes, which no one was expecting. This is a real alliance, bound, tacked with a gift ribbon, it is really problematic. This is not just a rumor, it is fact."

On Dec. 2, the FIFA executive committee is scheduled to vote in Zurich on the hosts for the 2018 World Cup (the four bidders are all European: England, Russia, Spain-Portugal and Netherlands-Belgium) and 2022 World Cup (the USA is up against four Asian bidders: Qatar, Australia, South Korea and Japan).

The key to the Spain-Qatar deal is the three South American votes that Spain has allegedly secured and, according to Tongan Ahongalu Fusimalohi, a former FIFA executive committee member, used to secure the vote of Oceania president Reynald Temarii by offering to provide training for its national teams, among the weakest in the world.

If such a deal existed, Qatar -- also rumored to have tied up the four African votes -- would be well on its way toward securing the 13 votes necessary if all 24 executive committee members vote. (Nigerian Amos Adamu and Temarii have been provisionally suspended for their dealings with the Sunday Times' undercover reporters posing as lobbyists.)

Deals like those outlined by Zen-Ruffinen and Fusimalohi are prohibited, according to bidding rules.

FIFA's ethics committee has opened an investigation into the alleged deals, but FIFA has not stated which bidders and federations were involved.

The USA begins with the support of the three Concacaf members on the FIFA executive committee -- Jack Warner of Trinidad & Tobago, Rafael Salguero of Guatemala and American Chuck Blazer -- but would basically need to sweep the vote of all European and Asian members if the South American and African votes were unavailable.

What makes that likelihood problematic is the USA would likely need to gain the support of all three European members whose bidding groups lost out to the Concacaf-backed European winner and gain the votes of the two Asian members whose bidding nations fell by the wayside.

FIFA executive committee members:
Europe (9):

Sepp BLATTER, Switzerland
Angel Maria VILLAR LLONA, Spain
Michel PLATINI, France
Geoff THOMPSON, England
Michel D'HOOGHE, Belgium
Senes ERZIK, Turkey
Marios LEFKARITIS, Cyprus
Vitaly MUTKO, Russia
Franz BECKENBAUER, Germany

Africa (4):
Issa HAYATOU, Cameroon
Amos ADAMU, Nigeria (temporarily suspended)
Jacques ANOUMA, Ivory Coast
Hany ABO RIDA, Egypt

South America (3):
Julio H. GRONDONA, Argentina
Ricardo Terra TEIXEIRA, Brazil
Nicolás LEOZ, Paraguay

Asia (4):
CHUNG Mong Joon, South Korea
Mohamed BIN HAMMAM, Qatar
Worawi MAKUDI, Thailand
Junji OGURA, Japan

Concacaf (3):
Jack WARNER, Trinidad & Tobago   
Rafael SALGUERO, Guatemala

Oceania (1):
Reynald TEMARII, Tahiti (temporarily suspended)
Note: If all 24 members are eligible, 13 votes are needed to win.

8 comments about "Troubling news for U.S. bidders".
  1. Mark Greenwood, October 25, 2010 at 9:25 a.m.

    What are these voters thinking! The United States deserve to have the 2022 World Cup. We had the most fans go to the World Cup in Africa this past year,have great stadiums and infrastructure and we know how to put on a show.

  2. Juan R, October 25, 2010 at 9:28 a.m.

    This process is awful... Is there not a better process?

  3. Kenneth Barron, October 25, 2010 at 10:41 a.m.

    It would be a disaster in Qatar tried to host a world cup. As if flying into South Africa wasn't hard enough, try flying into Qatar...

  4. Margaret Manning, October 25, 2010 at 2:39 p.m.

    At this point, WHERE the WC is held is of little interest compared to the pervasive corruption of FIFA. If there is no world-wide government body that can investigate and prosecute these criminals, then individual countries, like the USA, should, and decline to participate until this is cleaned up, and dealings are transparent. This is worse than Olympics. BTW, soccer in Germany in June was almost too hot. What is Qatar going to be like? Or will they build air-conditioned stadia? Will we be banned from wearing shorts?

  5. Margaret Manning, October 25, 2010 at 2:46 p.m.

    For half the year, the climate across the plains of Qatar is unforgiving. During summer (May to September), temperatures generally average 35°C, but it’s not uncommon for the mercury to rise to 50°C. The 90% humidity that comes with this time of year sags over the Peninsula like a bad hangover, and frequent sandstorms are an added irritation.
    While Qatar proposes high-tech cooling systems, it won't be cool in between fixtures and the stadium cooling will be subject to power and other failures, which--if they were to occur--would render the games unplayable.

  6. David Huff, October 25, 2010 at 3:34 p.m.

    Perhaps Saudi Arabia will become a co-sponsor to help with the logistical difficulties? Women will then need to wear the abaya and sit in segregated seating in order to attend matches if they are allowed to attend at all in the first-ever Islamic WC.

  7. Brian Herbert, October 25, 2010 at 4:43 p.m.

    The only way I would fly to Qatar is in an F-15 squadron. Are they kidding? As for FIFA, its whole charter needs an overhaul and every exec committee member should be independently checked and questioned. This isn't just about selecting a WC site, there were also leaks about countries trying to corrupt referees to influence matches. And they have not shown any initiative that I've seen on a salary cap solution that is at least Europe wide, as Arsenal's Wenger just said, in the EPL they are at the breaking point. Finally, FIFA, since the refs may be corrupt, at least get the goal-line technology so we don't think matches are totally fixed.

  8. Brian Herbert, October 26, 2010 at 1:46 p.m.

    Let's try to guess what FIFA's evaluation looks like:, "Qatar is an absolute monarchy cited frequently for the human rights violations of its "peasant" class, the monarchy has friendly ties to Hezbollah, Hamas, and Iranian President Ahmedinejad - ok, we'll put those in the negative column. Qatar is filthy rich with oil and happy to spend it on FIFA officials - plus. OK, guess we're unanimous, Qatar gets 2022"

Next story loading loading..

Discover Our Publications