ZURICH - FIFA may have to look to their
younger cousins on the other side of Switzerland to avoid a
repetition of the controversy which surrounded the choosing of
the hosts of the 2018 and 2022 World Cups.
The tumultuous process which culminated in FIFA opting for
Russia and Qatar was a stark contrast to UEFA's low key campaign
to choose the hosts for Euro 2016 - a 24-team tournament
rivaling the World Cup for prestige - earlier this year.
FIFA's bidding process, in which the hosts are chosen by the
22 members of its executive committee, left the impression that
political wheeling and dealing is more important that simply
presenting a good bid.
Qatar, whose bid had been described as FIFA's own technical
committee as posing a potential health risk to players and
visitors, was awarded the 2022 World Cup.
Meanwhile, England's bid team were incredulous after picking
up only two votes out of 22 for what they believed was the best
bid for the 2018 World Cup, won by Russia.
There were no such complaints when UEFA, based in Nyon on
the shores of Lake Geneva, chose France to host Euro 2016 in a
campaign where the emphasis was almost exclusively on the
technical quality of the bids.
Unlike FIFA, UEFA does not allow members from bidding
countries to vote. It also has stricter guidelines on gifts to
UEFA officials, which are clearly limited to a "symbolic" value
of 150 Swiss francs.
Michel Platini, who is president of UEFA and also sits on
the FIFA executive committee, recently pondered the possibility
of extending the vote to the entire FIFA Congress.
Platini estimated that being awarded the World Cup could
benefit a country to the tune of between 10 and 20 billion
"You can imagine what kind of pressure a candidate could
exert on a person who has a vote," he told Swiss newspaper Tages
Anzeiger. "Maybe we can talk about that, what we can change in
the way it is awarded.
"Maybe one possibility is that the whole Congress decides,
that way the weight of an individual would not be same as it is
today," he explained.
The FIFA election was characterised by the quite open
lobbying of the 22 executive committee members.
England's bid chief executive Andy Anson made no bones at
the start of the week about what was facing him.
"Obviously, the strength of the bid is important but when
you've got 22 people with two campaigns who've got their own
issues or agendas, or their own elections to worry about, of
course politics are involved," he said.
Following their snub on Thursday, Anson's mood had turned to
anger. "Whatever money that was spent on the technical bid was,
that money went straight down the drain," he said.
Anson said that lobbying went on until five o'clock in the
morning of the day of the vote and that, in his meetings with
executive committee members, he had been assured of more votes
than the two than they mustered.
"Having only 22 guys voting gives them too much power and
influence," he said.
There was certainly no lack of technical detail for FIFA's
executive committee to go on, if they had wanted.
In August and September, a six-man FIFA committee spent more
than one month travelling around the world, inspecting the 11
countries involved in the nine bids for the 2018 and 2022 World
They painstakingly compiled detailed technical reports on
the countries they visited, analysing everything from how far
teams would have to travel between their hotels and training
venues to the potential television revenue each bid could pull
But, after seeing the way in which FIFA chose the hosts on
Thursday, they might have been wondering why they bothered.
To add insult to injury, Harold Mayne-Nicholls, who headed
the committee, lost his job as Chilean Federation president
after opponents back home took advantage of his long absence to
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