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Monday, 3 July, 2000, 21:13 GMT 22:13 UK
World Cup 2006 forum
The battle to host the 2006 World Cup will be settled by Fifa on Thursday 6 July. The contest, like so much in the murky world of football politics, is far from straightforward.
For the average fan, little is known about the personalities invloved in the bidding process - or the "smoke-filled room" negotiations that go with it.
But one man with an inside track on the subject is BBC Sports News correspondent Gordon Farquhar.
He has followed the bidding war around the world since England made their official pitch at the Cannes Football EXPO in January 1999.
Gordon has witnessed the long, complicated process of international lobbying which will be resolved by a convoluted voting system by Fifa's 24-man committee.
Gordon shares his specialised knowledge, views and expectations with Sport Online in a special forum answering your queries on the race to host World Cup 2006.
Matthew Wegner, London: What is the process on decision day for hosting the 2006 World Cup?
Gordon Farquhar: Well decision day is definitely Thursday 6 July. Basically the process is that the all the bids get together and they present one last time to the Fifa Executive on Wednesday and then on the 6th the Fifa executive gets together at 9:30 in the morning (Zurich local time). Then they will got through the voting process which is by succession of elimination, or the first to get 13 votes, which will give a clear majority. The decision, we expect, will be at around 1400 hours (about 1pm UK time).
Rob, Manchester: What stages have taken place up until now?
Gordon Farquhar: Anybody who wanted to bid had to put in a formal document for Fifa, by April 1998. From there on in, it's basically been a case of lobbying around the world, and a series of presentations to each of the six confederations of Fifa, which has taken place from February onwards up until the last one, the Uefa Conference which has just gone. But in terms of voting all the five bidders, apart from Brazil who have just pulled out, will have their cases heard. There's no pre-elimination or pre-qualification or anything like that. Everyone's entitled to bid so long as they can put together a decent bid document by the deadline date.
Irene Pyne, Amersham: Why do we think we have the right to host the World Cup?
Gordon Farquhar: Well I think it's been held a long held policy of this government and the previous one to try and attract world class events to Britain. I think there was a feeling that in the past that wasn't sufficiently well co-ordinated, and people started to wake up to the financial prospects, as well as the sporting ones. England felt that: "Why not? Why not go for it? 1966, 2006, it's 40 years on, England has never done quite so well in World Cups as it should have done since then, and it's a tremendous advantage having a World Cup on home territory, as France will testify. So I think all sorts of things, and plus, of course, the confidence of having such a great Premier League, great stadiums, all the infrastructure, and all the rest of the things which are required to hold the bid in place.
Andrew, UK: You say great stadiums, but it's been claimed by Uefa that England has second-rate stadiums, not at good as Germany or South Africa. Is this true?
Gordon Farquhar: Well I think there's been some confusion over what has said in the Inspection Report that was prepared by Alan Rothenberg and his team of inspectors. Nobody has really seen that in full, certainly nobody who hasn't had it leaked to them, because officially its contents are confidential, confidential to the 24-man executive committee of Fifa and the bidding teams themselves.
A lot of people will find it impossible to believe England stadia are not on a par with those in South Africa and Germany, and I tend to agree with them
Noel P Bertie, England: Do you think that the English yobs will prevent them from being given the 2006 World Cup or will Fifa ignore that and concentrate on stadia?
Gordon Farquhar: Well unfortunately it's going to be a factor, but how big a factor is another matter of great debate. Some people say it's very important, other people you speak to on the Fifa executive say it's less important. Sepp Bladder himself has frequently said that violence in football is problem for society and football as a whole to think about and not just one country to bear responsibility for. Although, Uefa seem to, fairly and squarely, put the blame for it on English hooligans after what happened in Charleroi. The images in the minds of Fifa executives who have seen that on their TVs are ones of English fans causing trouble.
It's been a great hindrance to the bid team, it's been talked about at great length. But the significance of which has perhaps been over-exaggerated in England, because in other parts of the world the hooliganism problem is as bad, if not worse, than ours, and many people on the Fifa executive realise and accept that. But clearly it hasn't helped at a time when England's bid has been under pressure.
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