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Friday, 7 July, 2000, 15:04 GMT 16:04 UK
World Cup: SA ponders legal action
disappointed South African football fans
South Africans can't believe their bid was rejected
By Jane Standley in Johannesburg

South Africa's bid committee for the 2006 soccer World Cup is considering the possibility of taking legal action following the unexpected decision to award the competition to Germany.

A source close to the committee told the BBC that South Africa would challenge the decision if it was at all possible to do so.

The vote by delegates to FIFA, the body that governs world soccer, has been greeted by a national outcry in South Africa.

Before the vote, it was widely expected that South Africa would win, after FIFA chief Sepp Blatter backed its bid.


The disappointment we are experiencing is a setback to our efforts at gaining the recognition Africa deserves in the international sporting community

Thabo Mbeki, South African president

Resentment

Pain and distress at the rejection of Africa's first realistic bid to host the tournament has quickly turned to anger and resentment.

Popular talk radio stations have been inundated with callers crying foul and accusing FIFA of being Eurocentric and even racist.

The chairman of South Africa's bid committee, Irvin Khoza, says its lawyer will spend the weekend examining the voting process.

Disappointed South African football fans
The anticipated celebrations turned into a wake

The BBC was told by a source close to the committee that the lawyer will also look into the legal constitution of FIFA itself, particularly at whether countries have the right to abstain.

Embarassment

New Zealand is deeply embarrassed by the behaviour of its delegate to FIFA, Charles Dempsey, who refused to cast the crucial vote.

New Zealand's diplomats in South Africa said they have had many calls and they are ashamed of what has happened.

Representations are being made at the highest levels between the two governments.

Soccer mad

But it is ordinary South Africans, especially the soccer-mad black community, who are most upset.

It is they who have most to lose - jobs, investment, tourism and an injection of confidence into this new but still troubled country.

Even South Africa's stock market fell on the news that the World Cup competition will not be coming here.

See also:

07 Jul 00 | 2006 World Cup decision
06 Jul 00 | 2006 World Cup decision
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