Football: South Africa World Cup bid wins support of US

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The Independent Online
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", Uefa's general secretary, Gerhard Aigner, 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.

"Our executive committee made it quite clear that it is out of the question for Europe to start a World Cup in May," said Aigner.

"It can be at the earliest June. Even then, at the beginning of June we will have serious complications."

The European season would have to end by mid-May to accommodate the advanced start and give national teams time to prepare, Aigner said. "That is something we haven't found out yet how to produce."

Acknowledging the concerns that led to an earlier date being proposed, he said: "We should not be negative but the realities in Europe are such that we can't really come that far."