Football: Beckenbauer's band plays as Ronaldo backs Brazilian bid

Nick Harris examines the bids of the final two countries hoping to stage the 2006 World Cup as they submit their applications to Fifa in Zurich
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The Independent Online
RONALDO MADE a surprise substitute appearance for his country yesterday when he took the place of Ronaldinho in the Brazilian delegation that formally submitted its 2006 World Cup bid in Switzerland. Brazil and Germany were the last of the five bidding nations to make the trip to the Zurich headquarters of Fifa, football's world governing body, following the submissions of England, South Africa and Morocco on Monday.

Ronaldo was one of four big-name players representing Brazil, which is rated as having no more than an outside chance of staging the 2006 event. He was joined by two World Cup-winning captains - Carlos Alberto Torres (1970) and Dunga (1994) - and Zico, who played in three World Cup tournaments.

Although Brazil's bid document itself was wafer-thin compared to the multi-volume efforts submitted by England and South Africa, the delegation stressed that they are still intent on fighting for the right to stage the world's most watched sporting event.

"I want you to respect our bid because it is a serious one," Ricardo Teixeira, the president of the Brazilian Football Association, said. "It's very important to have the support of the people of Brazil as well as the press," he added. "But what is even more important is the support of the members of the Fifa executive committee who are voting." A vote next July by the 24-man committee will decide the eventual hosts.

Brazil's bid is likely to suffer because Pele, the greatest and most famous footballer the world has known, has refused to endorse it. Zico added, however: "This is the moment when all Brazilians are united and Pele must join us." Pele has said he would rather see money spent on social welfare than hosting a football tournament. If he could be persuaded to change his mind, it could turn an also-ran into a genuine contender.

After the Brazilians had had their 30 minutes in the spotlight, the German bid team, led by Franz Beckenbauer and accompanied by lederhosen-clad musicians, put their case. "Everyone still in the bidding has a chance," Beckenbauer said. "There are five strong candidates. South Africa has a good argument that the World Cup should go to Africa for the first time but maybe they aren't ready to host in 2006." He added: "Our job in the next 11 months will be to convince people Germany is the right host."

The bid submissions signal the start of what is likely to be an intense 11-month lobbying campaign by all the interested parties. A Fifa delegation will visit each country to assess whether they can meet the requirements on stadiums, security, infrastructure, telecommunications and a host of other criteria, before the vote.

Sepp Blatter, Fifa's president, has thrown his considerable weight behind South Africa, which is the current favourite. The English bid team hopes to convince everyone that only they can absolutely guarantee a hitch-free event in surroundings resonating with a historic passion for the game. The other countries hope to do much the same.

THE RACE FOR 2006: HOW THE FIVE CANDIDATES COMPARE

ENGLAND

Cost of bid: pounds 10m.

Slogan: "We are ready. We are right."

Figureheads: Sir Bobby Charlton, Sir Geoff Hurst.

Bid idea: A World Cup for the people, especially the young, in the home of football.

Plus points: Most of the stadiums are already in place. The new Wembley will be the icing on the cake. No problems with infrastructure, communications or security. Strong government backing.

Minus points: English bid starting to be viewed as too bullish and arrogant by some nations. The spectre of any re-emergence of hooliganism will not help.

Chances: Good, but would improve if South Africa slipped up badly.

SOUTH AFRICA

Cost of bid: pounds 5m.

Slogan: "African sensation, First World infrastructure. It's Africa's turn."

Figureheads: Danny Jordaan (campaign leader), Molefi Oliphant (President, South African FA).

Bid idea: A first World Cup for Africa, for sentimental reasons but also on a sound business footing.

Plus points: Has the vociferous support of Sepp Blatter, Fifa's president. Strong government backing. Moral high ground.

Minus points: Security. Although this is painted as a red herring by the bid team, high crime in some areas is still a worry.

Chances: Excellent, as long as security issues go some way to being addressed.

GERMANY

Cost of bid: pounds 3m.

Slogan: "Football country: see you in the heart of Europe."

Figurehead: Franz Beckenbauer.

Big idea: A well-run World Cup in a country full of football heritage and diversity.

Plus points: Will deliver what it promises. Likely to have support of most Uefa nations, who believe a deal was done whereby England got Euro 96 and Germany got support for 2006.

Minus points: Like England, has no outstanding claim for the tournament. Although politicians are backing the bid, there is discontent that it will cost money needed in other areas.

Chances: Not bad, but England's relentless lobbying on all levels possibly puts it in the shade.

BRAZIL

Cost of bid: Estimated less than pounds 1m.

Slogan: You don't get a slogan for less than pounds 1m.

Figureheads: Zico, Dunga, Carlos Alberto Torres, Ronaldo.

Big idea: Brazil is a power on the field and wants to be one off it.

Plus points: If any country could stake a claim for "bringing football home" it is Brazil. The prospect of staging a World Cup there is mouth- watering.

Minus points: Lack of finance. Stadiums need huge investment. The bid does not have the support of Pele, who has said it is "a crazy idea" for his country to bid for the event.

Chances: As slim as the bid document submitted yesterday (unless Pele does a U-turn).

MOROCCO

Cost of bid: Estimated less than pounds 1m.

Suggested slogan: "Fez only one place for it."

Figureheads: Driss Benhima (president of bid), Hamid Lahbabi (vice-president of Moroccan FA).

Big idea: A safe African option, close to Europe, that would represent not only the Continent but also the Arab world.

Plus points: Enthusiasm and location. Football has taken off in Morocco and the country has made progress in the international arena.

Minus points: Poor infrastructure. Few stadiums. Would need a lot of money spent.

Chances: About as good as Mustapha Hadji's chances winning the Double with Coventry this year.

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