TOKYO - Japan will host December's Club
World Cup as scheduled, FIFA said on Monday, dismissing fears
the country's nuclear crisis could force a switch of venue.
FIFA president Sepp Blatter met Japanese Prime Minister
Naoto Kan to pledge support for the relief efforts following the
deadly March 11 earthquake and tsunami.
"We are confident Japan can organise this competition,"
Blatter told reporters in Tokyo. "We look forward with
confidence and optimism that this tournament will be a good
Blatter delivered his verdict after receiving assurances
that teams and officials would not be exposed to radiation from
the crippled nuclear plant 150 miles north of Tokyo.
The 9.0-magnitude quake and giant tsunami left 28,000 dead
or homeless, devastating large areas of Japan's north-east.
The 15-metre tsunami wave tore though the Fukushima power
plant, triggering fears of a Chernobyl-style meltdown and as a
result also plunged sporting events into chaos.
Blatter told Japan's PM Kan the December 8-18 Club World Cup
would go ahead as planned to help give victims of the disaster
courage to rebuild their lives.
"Through football there is hope," said Blatter, who is
battling to defend FIFA from accusations of corruption over
World Cup votes.
"What (the disaster victims) need now is to smile after the
Blatter also pledged money to help with the reconstruction
work in the tsunami-ravaged areas.
"Money from the FIFA emergency fund will be available to
Japan for reconstruction efforts," he said. "I expressed to the
PM my sympathy and our solidarity with the Japanese people in
these troubled times."
Radiation leaking into the air and sea has forced the
evacuation of thousands of residents near the nuclear facility
and could take well into next year to contain.
Japan hosted the lucrative Club World Cup, involving the
champions of FIFA's six confederations, from 2005-08 before it
went to the United Arab Emirates for two years.
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