Football: S Africa's World Cup bid wins support from US

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THE GAME'S authorities in America are lending their support to South Africa's bid to host the 2006 World Cup.

Bob Contiguglia, president of the United States Soccer Federation, finalised plans this week for South Africa to take part in a tournament next summer in America. "We were impressed with the infrastructure in Cape Town and we will help South Africa in their bid process on just how to prepare," he said. "We have staged two World Cups as well as the Olympics in recent years.

"We hope to meet the South African Football Association again in Chicago early next month." South Africa are considered to be the front-runners to host the event, with Germany and England also vying for the right to win the tournament.

A May kick-off for the 2002 World Cup finals in South Korea and Japan is "out of the question", Gerhard Aigner, the general secretary of Uefa, European football's governing body, said yesterday. In July Fifa, the world ruling body, asked its regional confederations to consider a proposal to begin the tournament on 23 May, nearly three weeks ahead of its usual start, to avoid the South Korean rainy season. "It can be at the earliest June," Aigner said. "Even then, at the beginning of June we will have serious complications."

Uefa yesterday approved the creation of a task force which will examine a possible limit on players' salaries as part of a planned licensing system for Europe's clubs.

Aigner said it was hoped to have the committee in place in the next two months. He gave no date for its conclusions.

The committee deferred action on a Uefa recommendation to introduce standardised deadlines for transfers from the 2001-02 season. The plan would mean players could only change clubs during two specific periods of the year.

Uefa will consider a new system in October or November because a number of member associations, including the Football Association, requested more time for "internal consultations," Aigner said. The FA was not involved in drawing up the proposal.

Earlier this month Uefa proposed a first transfer period running from the last day of countries' domestic championships and ending on 15 September for domestic transfers. The deadline for international transfers would be 31 August. The year's second transfer window would run from 15 December to 31 January.