SA give up on 2006

Click to follow
The Independent Football

Confident the new principle of rotation adopted by world soccer's governing body will virtually ensure it the 2010 World Cup, the South African Football Association on Friday quietly dropped its fight for a review of the controversial awarding of the 2006 finals to Germany.

Confident the new principle of rotation adopted by world soccer's governing body will virtually ensure it the 2010 World Cup, the South African Football Association on Friday quietly dropped its fight for a review of the controversial awarding of the 2006 finals to Germany.

After their request to take the matter to arbitration was rejected by FIFA on Thursday, the South African delegation had drawn up legal papers for a civil suit, intent on taking FIFA to the Zurich state high court to demand it be told "to respect its own statutes."

But persuaded by the African Football Confederation that the country would likely receive the 2010 World Cup - following the FIFA executive board's unanimous agreement on some form of rotational system among the six continental confederations starting 2010 - SAFA held back at the last moment.

South Africa's bid president Irvin Khoza told reporters they had been unofficially assured that South Africa would receive the World Cup the next time around.

"In the corridors everybody concurs that it (the rotation) must start in Africa," Khoza said, though he conceded this has not been formally decided. "We think we have now to concentrate on 2010. I think we fancy our chances.

"In 2004 they FIFA will be celebrating 100 years of football and Africa is the only continent which has not had the World Cup. Clearly it's time."

Khoza acknowledged that Oceania had never staged the World Cup either. However, having only become a confederation in 1966, "its wait has been shorter than ours."

While it admitted it did not feel completely vindicated, the South African delegation insists it did not drop the case simply because it was afraid to anger FIFA.

"I think that South Africa as a whole has never been afraid to pursue justice," said bid chief Danny Jordaan. "Personally and as a group, we faced more difficult situations in the interest of justice in Africa. I think it's about pursuing a system which is fair and equitable."

"Clearly if you develop a new system it's because the old system is inadequate," he added. "With the new system you have to deal with those results and inadequacies. So Africa must be awarded the World Cup."

South Africa had sought arbitration in the weeks following the July 6 vote that saw the FIFA Executive Committee award the 2006 tournament to Germany in a 12-11 vote.

The delegation contended that the final 12-11 vote in Germany's favor should not be allowed to stand because Oceania delegate Charles Dempsey was mandated to vote for South Africa, but instead controversially abstained, claiming he'd been put under "intolerable pressure" by an unnamed figures on the fringe of the bidding process.

A 12-12 tie would likely have swung in South Africa's favor because the tie-breaking vote would have been given to FIFA President Sepp Blatter, a strong supporter of awarding the tournament to the African continent.

Instead, Europe was awarded its 10th World Cup finals, while Africa still awaits its first.

South Africa argued that Dempsey did not voluntarily abstain because he acted "under high pressure," complaining of attempts to bribe him, and that the principle of a secret vote was violated because Dempsey announced at the beginning of the meeting he would vote only for England.

"I think it's good that South Africa dropped the issue," said German bid chief Franz Beckenbauer. "I don't understand why they reacted they way they did. Maybe they were just very disappointed.

"They had nothing to complain about FIFA or us."

On Thursday, FIFA General Secretary Michel Zen-Ruffinen had said FIFA did not perceive the need to enter any kind of arbitration proceedings.

FIFA spokesman Keith Cooper said the world body had not yet been officially notified of the South African decision to drop its case and couldn't yet comment.

Blatter, who has longed for a first World Cup in Africa, seemed eager to implement the new rotational system.

"It was very great satisfaction," he said of the executive committee's proposal. "It is only justice that each continent can host the tournament."

But not everyone enchanted with the idea of a rotational system.

"The first thing about rotation is that if South Africa had won the 2006 World Cup, rotation would not be a question now, would it?" asked Chuck Blazer, the general secretary of CONCACAF. "And there are other sides to the issue which need to be examined.

"There are people, members, who have rights. A rotational system affects the rights of members under the current FIFA statutes. You can't just deny people the right to bid for World Cups."

Before then, the issue will go to the FIFA Strategic Study Committee to work out exactly how that rotational system will work.

Comments