Deals, pacts and snubs mark World Cup host votes

Deals, pacts and snubs mark World Cup host votes

BY foxsports • November 26, 2010

The scandal-hit 2018-2022 World Cup bid process has followed a pattern of previous FIFA elections.

The history of 19 World Cup host selections reveals allegations of secret deals, agreements between rival bidders - even on the eve of polling - and absent voters from Oceania.

All of these elements seem to have joined before Thursday's secret ballot in Zurich that will end the bidding affair, and likely start a bitter round of losers' tales of defeat.

FIFA has been there before, in July 2000.

A notorious vote by the executive committee chose Germany to host the 2006 World Cup, edging South Africa 12-11 because Oceania president Charlie Dempsey abstained despite being mandated to support the Nelson Mandela-backed bid in the final round. Mandela's successor as state president, Thabo Mbeki, called it ''a tragedy for Africa.''

Dempsey said he received telephone threats from ''influential European interests'' the night before voting. He resigned from FIFA one week later and took the truth to his grave two years ago.

The full story was never explained, and FIFA-watchers have speculated how Sepp Blatter - who publicly supported South Africa - would have used his presidential casting vote had Dempsey fulfilled his duty.

Before Mandela's snub, executive members comprehensively dismissed Henry Kissinger when the United States thought it had a chance to bail out FIFA and host in 1986.

Kissinger led a delegation to Stockholm in May 1983 to compete with Mexico and Canada as FIFA sought to replace Colombia, which pulled out eight years after being chosen. That 1974 decision was the first by the executive committee instead of the full congress of football nations.

As the Nobel Peace Prize winner put forward the American case, Mexican officials - who had their man, FIFA voter and television magnate Guillermo Canedo, in the committee room - began preparing a party for their eventual unanimous victory.

''While Kissinger and their bid team were still making their presentation, the Mexicans could be observed downstairs busy laying out all the champagne glasses,'' English reporter David Miller, a veteran of 14 World Cups, told The Associated Press.

Blatter's mentor and predecessor, Joao Havelange, helped ensure Mexico's victory then but could not fully deliver his promise that Japan would be the first Asian host in 2002.

A spirited South Korean bid meant a diplomatic solution was required to calm old tensions revived by the campaign.

Less than 48 hours before the May 1996 vote in Zurich, Europe's football leaders helped broker FIFA's first - and, so far, only - co-hosting deal that saved face for both neighbors.

The re-run '86 decision had signaled a new commercial reality as World Cup hosting became prized in a booming era for sports marketing.

Life was much simpler for FIFA in 1966. Three bidders got one tournament each.

That triple decision at the congress in London allocated World Cups 16 years ahead: West Germany got 1974, Argentina '78 and Spain '82.

A fourth bidder, Mexico, had originally entered but two years before the London meeting it secured the 1970 rights - defeating Argentina 56-32 in a 1964 congress vote in Tokyo. Argentina was unchallenged for '78 as FIFA alternated between Europe and the Americas.

FIFA was getting by on the bare minimum of offers, as it had immediately after the second world war.

The 1946 congress held in Luxembourg chose the only candidate, Brazil, to revive the World Cup in 1949 and neutral Switzerland to bring it back to war-damaged Europe in '51. FIFA soon pushed back the schedule and reverted to the pre-war four-year cycle.

When the football world gathered in Rio for the slightly strange 13-team 1950 finals, it still had only one taker, Sweden, for the '58 tournament.

The inaugural 1930 World Cup also was awarded to the official sole bidder, Uruguay, 14 months before kick-off after five rivals gradually withdrew. Italy got 1934 without an election.

FIFA members finally got to vote at the August 1936 congress in Berlin - held during the Olympics - when France defeated Argentina 19-4. A third candidate, Nazi Germany, polled zero.

Germany and Brazil were to compete for 1942 hosting rights, but war forced a 12-year break.

In 1984, the Soviet Union was bidding but the executive committee sent the 1990 tournament to Italy.

Next came clear first-round victories: heralding USA '94 over bids from Morocco and Brazil, then the France '98 project polled more than Morocco and Switzerland combined.

Morocco was an also-ran in Germany's victory in 2006, then lost a fourth race four years later despite strong support in the African confederation when South Africa won 14-10.

Finally, even FIFA saw fit to reward Mandela.


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