The real story behind choosing a football World Cup host, Part 2

Fans celebrating the upcoming 2010 FIFA World ...

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FIFA Hosting Rules
There are several FIFA constraints that have a bearing on who will host the next WC. The first is that any continent, or confederation in FIFA terms, that hosts the tournament, will not be able to host the next 2 events. There are 6 confederations in FIFA
1) Africa
2) Oceania
3) S. America
4) Europe (including England, Russian, Spain/Portugal, Holland/Belgium)
5) Asia (including Australia, Qatar, Japan and S. Korea)
6) Caribbean, North and Central America (including USA)
South Africa hosted 2010, leaving Africa ineligible for 2014 and 2018. Brazil (South America) are hosting 2014, leaving South America ineligible for 2018 and 2022. Europe will host 2018, as the only competing bidders are from Europe. So the only confederations eligible to host WC 2022 are the 4 confederations, Asia, Africa, Oceania and CONCACAF. Examining each eligible confederation in turn reveals…
Africa: South Africa hosted 2010 and no other country is capable or willing to host WC 2022
Oceania: Consists of 11 islands, of which the biggest is New Zealand, and although NZ will host the rugby WC in 2011, none of the member countries will ever have the capacity to host such a major tournament.
CONCACAF: Only 2 countries are able to host the WC, Mexico and the USA, with a third possibly being Canada, but Canada has not made a bid, Mexico have hosted it twice already and pulled out of the bidding process in 2009, leaving the USA, which is probably the strongest bid of any, bar none. The USA WC in 94 still holds records for attendances, revenue, advertising etc despite having 12 games less to host than the subsequent WCs.
Asia: And so that just leaves Asia and their 4 bids, including Qatar.
Tactical Voting
The second point to note is that it is not necessary to convince the 208 members of the FIFA congress which is the best bid. It is not even necessary to convince half of them. It is only necessary to convince 13 members! The choice of who hosts the WC is decided by the 24 members of the Executive committee. (exco)
There are 2 parallel campaigns to host the 2018 and 2022. One takes place above board, in expensive TV adverts with celebrity ambassadors, where the buzz words are legacy and ethics. The other is run entirely in the shadows, with increasingly unethical persuasion and dirty tricks the norm, as bidder desperately try to win enough exco votes.
To many, the opaque rules of the bidding process exacerbate the risk of dirty tricks. Add in the decision to abandon formal continental rotation, the wide number of bidders, the fact that two World Cups are being awarded at the same time and the size of the prize at stake and the potential for shadowy behaviour is multiplied. So who is on this all powerful executive committee?
1 General Secretary
Jerome Valcke France
1 Senior Vice-President
Julio Grondona Argentina
7 Vice-Presidents
Issa Hayatou Cameroon
Chung Mong Joon South Korea
Jack Warner Trinidad and Tobago
Ángel María Villar Spain
Michel Platini France
Reynald Temarii Tahiti
Geoff Thompson England
15 Members
Michel D’Hooghe Belgium
Ricardo Terra Teixeira Brazil
Mohammed Bin Hammam Qatar
Senes Erzik Turkey
Chuck Blazer United States of America
Nicolas Leoz Paraguay
Worawi Makudi Thailand
Junji Ogura Japan
Amos Adamu Nigeria
Marios Lefkaritis Cyprus
Jacques Anouma Ivory Coast
Franz Beckenbauer Germany
Rafael Salguero Guatemala
Hany Abo Rida Egypt
Vitaly Mutko Russia
In addition, President Joseph S. Blatter Switzerland, who is not on the committee, has a deciding vote in the event of a tie. Voting is done using a multiple round exhaustive ballot system whereby the candidate receiving the fewest votes in each round is eliminated until a single candidate is chosen by the majority.
Voting on 2 world cups at the same time is a decision that has never been properly explained, but it was a very unusual decision made by the current executive committee to ensure their influence on 2022, a decision that they would probably not be able to influence as their positions would have been up for re-election long before the decision on who would host 2002 should have been made. Some have claimed it was in order to provide more certainty in revenue and exploit the maximum commercial potential of 2022. Others believe Blatter’s bid for re-election as Fifa president in April next year was a factor.
After 10 years of denials Sepp Blatter has been forced to admit by Swiss investigators that some FIFA Executive Committee members took massive kickbacks. His confession has spurred new speculation that after the vote on December 2nd, deciding which countries will host 2018 and 2022, the Asian confederation will renew its campaign, first disclosed in February, to oust Blatter.
Resumption of the war to get rid of Blatter and all the corruption will force the teams bidding for 2018 and 2022 to rethink the loyalty they have pledged to the FIFA president and how they lobby for support from the 4 Asian members of the Executive Committee. 2 of the Asian members are being tipped to replace Blatter next year. The first is the South Korean Chung Mong joon. He is the main shareholder of Hyundai Heavy Industries Group, one of the biggest companies in the world. The second is from Qatar, bin Hammam. They are both not tainted by any bribery scandals, and are probably both too rich to be bribed anyway.
As the bidding process and evaluation lasts for almost 6 months, collusion is rampant. On a relatively benign level, this leads to a trading of votes. For example, just recently the USA pulled out of the bidding for 2018, leaving it an all European affair, and England pulled out of bidding for 2022, almost on the same day.
It is entirely feasible, that a gentleman’s agreement was made. In exchange for pulling out, the USA will bid for England in the first round of voting for 2018, and England will bid for the USA in the first round of voting for 2022. This is of course against FIFA ethics and Spain and Qatar are currently being investigated for exactly this type of trading of votes. And recently, the Australian bid chairman Frank Lowy claimed openly that his country’s withdrawal from the race for 2018 had helped its case in securing the votes of Europe’s FIFA Executive committee members.
On a much more insidious level, votes are bought by countries desperate to win the financial windfall of hosting the WC. FIFA has always been dogged by allegations of corruption, but in the good old days, it stayed that way; just allegations and rumours. Newspaper articles, exposes, court cases, have all been meticulously documented and available for those willing to look for it, but somehow, FIFA officials were always able to have their cake and eat it.
Now that we are in the 21st Century, and the benefits of hosting are up to USD 5 Billion, it is much harder to hide from public revelations as the Sunday Times have shown. The UK newspaper ran a sting where they allegedly bought votes from Amos Adamu of Nigeria and Reynald Temarii from Tahiti, videoing the whole exchange and putting it on the internet, demonstrating conclusively, how flawed and corrupt the whole process has always been. And now a former secretary general has been caught in a similar sting where he sold information revealing exactly how much each committee members’ vote can be bought for.
With so many votes available to the highest bidder, the venue of the next 2 world cups is not nearly as clear as it would seem to the outsider. In the next instalment, we will look at the actual proposals from each bidding country.

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