FIFA says the United States bid needs stronger guarantees of
federal government support and Qatar’s desert heat could put
players’ health at risk at a 2022 World Cup.
FIFA’s technical advisers provided reasons to reject all nine
2018 and 2022 World Cup bidding projects in evaluation reports
published Wednesday, 15 days before its executive committee chooses
the two winners in a secret ballot.
The assessments are designed to highlight legal, commercial and
organizational risks that soccer’s governing body could face in
opting to entrust a bidder with the tournament that earns FIFA
about 95 percent of its income every four years.
”We feel we have accomplished our work in the spirit of
integrity, objectiveness and transparency,” Harold Mayne-Nicholls,
the Chilean who led the inspections, said in an introduction to his
The United States and Qatar are hoping for the 2022 World Cup,
along with Australia, South Korea and Japan. Russia is up against
England, Spain-Portugal and Belgium-Netherlands for the 2018
However, the 24-person executive body – and two members in
particular – have more pressing World Cup issues.
FIFA published summaries of the technical reports as its ethics
court sat for a third day to investigate allegations published by a
British newspaper that voters and bidders have been corruptly
trading votes behind the scenes.
The ethics panel will announce Thursday if Amos Adamu of Nigeria
and Reynald Temarii of Tahiti should be barred for allegedly
offering their support for sale, and whether to exclude the Qatari
and Spain-Portugal bids over allegations they broke FIFA rules by
colluding to swap votes.
FIFA President Sepp Blatter will lead an emergency executive
session on Friday, perhaps with Adamu and Temarii reinstated, to
consider how the ethics rulings affect the ballot on Dec. 2 in
Zurich. Bid evaluations are also on the executive agenda.
The six-member technical panel aimed to highlight concerns after
making four-day visits to each bid team between July and
The United States bid, seen as Qatar’s main rival in the 2022
contest, was marked as a ”medium” legal risk because ”neither
the government guarantees, the government declaration nor the
government legal statement have been provided in compliance with
David Downs, executive director of the American bid, said
changes were made ”given the unique nature of the law and
governmental authority in the U.S. democracy.”
”We have been in conversations with FIFA about this and they
are comfortable with the situation,” Downs said in a
Qatar’s report highlighted that the proposed 2022 finals would
be played in June and July – ”the two hottest months of the year
in this region.” Average temperatures then are (106 degrees).
”The fact … has to be considered as a potential health risk
for players, officials, the FIFA family and spectators, and
requires precautions to be taken,” the FIFA report said.
Qatar bid chief executive Hassan Al-Thawadi said the issue was
being addressed through air-cooling systems lowering stadium
temperatures to 81 degrees. Training camps and viewing zones where
fans will gather to watch matches on giant screens also would be
The report picked out possible logistical challenges from having
10 of 12 proposed stadiums within a 19-mile radius.
”We are aware of the concerns expressed but we have ensured
that all of them can be answered to the satisfaction of the global
football family,” Al-Thawadi said in a statement.
In the 2018 contest, FIFA’s technical team had concerns with
Russia’s ambitious project to build billions of dollars’ worth of
new stadiums and infrastructure, coupled with its ”vastness and
remoteness from other countries.”
The lack of high-speed rail links would ”put pressure on the
air traffic infrastructure” and cause challenges in moving teams,
officials and fans between matches.
”Any delay in the completion of the transport projects could
impact on FIFA’s tournament operations,” the report said.
FIFA’s concerns appeared to be validated when Belgium’s national
team was delayed arriving in Voronezh, where it plays Russia in a
friendly on Wednesday. Fog in Voronezh forced the team’s flight to
land in Moscow on Tuesday, and players spent the night there
because no high-speed rail link connects the cities, which are 300
”Risks in the operational area that FIFA has flagged up in
their bid evaluation report are already being addressed and will
all be solved well ahead of the 2018 World Cup,” Russia bid
spokesman Andreas Herren said in a statement.
England, which has stressed it is ready now to stage the 2018
finals, was marked down for its provision of team hotels and
FIFA found fault in Spain-Portugal’s plans for security and
along with the Belgium-Netherlands report, raised an old fear about
co-hosting. The governing body has negative memories of its
so-called ”two of everything” tournament when Japan and South
Korea staged the 2002 World Cup.
Japan and South Korea are bidding individually for 2022 and,
along with Australia, pose potential commercial problems for FIFA,
which earned about $3.5 billion in television, sponsorship and
licensing deals from the recent World Cup in South Africa.
Playing in Asia meant ”a risk of a reduction in TV income and,
as a result, commercial revenue from Europe and the Americas. The
income from Asia-Oceania would need to be increased substantially
to offset the likelihood of loss of revenue,” FIFA said.
The inspection team of six FIFA-appointed officials was led by
Mayne-Nicholls, the former president of Chile’s soccer federation,
and included Danny Jordaan, the chief executive of South Africa’s
Their four-day visits were characterized by whistle-stop
helicopter tours, formal dinners with political leaders and news
conferences where questions from local media were not allowed.
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