Brazil withdraw 2006 bid

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The Independent Football

Brazil yesterday withdrew their bid to stage the 2006 World Cup and in doing so made South Africa the clear favourites to host the tournament.

Brazil yesterday withdrew their bid to stage the 2006 World Cup and in doing so made South Africa the clear favourites to host the tournament.

The move damages England's chances of staging the event, the location of which had, until yesterday, been in the balance. However, Brazil have not only withdrawn their proposals but agreed to support the African bid ahead of Thursday's decision to be made by Fifa.

Rumours suggesting a tactical Brazilian retreat had abounded for some time. Yesterday's news confirms that a deal, which will see the three South American votes handed to South Africa in return for a reciprocal gesture in the 2010 bidding process, has finally reached fruition.

Last week, the South African campaign organiser, Danny Jordaan, confirmed that talks with Brazil would continue over. Now, the last of the stumbling blocks have been removed, the votes of Brazil, Argentina and Paraguay guaranteed and now the South African team have only to keep their nerve in the last three days of campaigning to ensure a historic success.

Elsewhere, the European Commission have reiterated that it could not accept a formal agreement limiting the number of overseas players in European teams despite Uefa asking clubs to back a voluntary agreement forcing them to field a minimum of six home-grown players in order to reverse some of the effects of the Bosman ruling.

"If a club decides independently to limit the number of foreigners, that's OK," a Commission spokesman said. "But if there's a general agreement on quotas and we receive a complaint, we'd have to intervene."

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