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Five contenders make final plea to host 2022 World Cup

WORLD CUP 2018 & 2022 VOTE
Venue: Fifa HQ, Zurich, Switzerland Date: Thursday, 2 December Result expected from: 1500 GMT Coverage: Live on BBC Two from 1445 GMT; also on BBC Radio 5 live, plus live text commentary on the BBC Sport website.

Former United States president Bill Clinton
Former United States president Bill Clinton is supporting his nation's bid in Zurich

The five countries jostling for the right to host the 2022 World Cup have made their final pitch to Fifa ahead of Thursday's decisive vote in Zurich.

With the 2018 contenders embarking on last-ditch lobbying, Australia, the United States, South Korea, Japan and Qatar all made formal presentations.

Former United States president Bill Clinton backed his nation's bid.

Retired French footballer Zinedine Zidane, who has Arab ancestry, was also present to endorse Qatar's bid.

Fifa president Sepp Blatter has admitted that the decision to stage the votes for both the 2018 and 2022 tournaments at the same time was a mistake, raising the probability of collusion between bidders.

But having seen off those doubts the 22 members of Fifa's executive committee will cast votes in a series of ballots starting at 1300 GMT on Thursday until one bid for each has received an absolute majority.

The tiny oil-rich Gulf nation of Qatar claimed that bringing the World Cup to the Middle East offered Fifa an "historic opportunity" as, crucially, it would build dialogue across religious divides.

2022 BIDS: 'UNIQUE SELLING POINTS'
Qatar - cooled stadiums, which can be dismantled and moved to developing nations after 2022
United States - promising vast, record profits for world governing body Fifa and sold-out crowds
Australia - a safe pair of hands that will "turbocharge" football in the Asia and Pacific region
Japan - life-sized hologram-like '3D' matches projected to crowds in stadiums around the world
South Korea - a World Cup could help bring peace to the divided Korean peninsula

Qatar's bid committee also sought to counter Fifa's concerns about summer heat which can hit 50 degrees - and the legacy of a wave of new stadiums - by outlining projects for cooled venues that would be dismantled and transferred to developing countries afterwards.

"From Doha to Damascus, the hope for a generation of youth will be shown not to be an elusive dream," said Sheikha Moza bint Nasser Al Missned, the wife of the ruler of Qatar. "The time is now."

The US bid - backed by president Barack Obama via video link - claims it would produce record profits for Fifa while expanding the sport to millions more fans.

After former president Clinton had spoken - and overran the 30-minute time limit by nearly nine minutes - current US international Landon Donovan told delegates that their country, which hosted the 1994 tournament, was well placed to do it once again.

"Over 100 million watched this year's World Cup back home, which is indicative of how far we have come as a footballing nation," he said.

"The World Cup captivated our country and something special happened this summer in our love for the game."

Hollywood actor Morgan Freeman was also in Zurich to support his country's bid, and briefly fluffed his lines during his presentation.

Australia - which, like Qatar, has never before hosted a World Cup - had supermodel Elle Macpherson speaking alongside Frank Lowy, chairman of Australian's football federation.

GORDON FARQUHAR'S BLOG

Fellow supermodel Claudia Schiffer's appearance in Zurich in 2000 was credited with helping Germany secure the 2006 World Cup against strong competition from Nelson Mandela-backed South Africa.

Manchester United's Park Ji-Sung spoke in favour of South Korea's bid, while Japan - who co-hosted the 2002 World Cup with South Korea - were the last to made their final plea to voters.

Japan promised that technology would play a large part if it won, insisting that 400 stadiums around the world would be paved with 3-D flat screens to show life-size matches thousands of miles away.



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see also
Beckham has faith in Fifa members
01 Dec 10 |  Football
Putin to stay away from Fifa bid
01 Dec 10 |  Europe
World Cup vote explained
30 Nov 10 |  Football
The World Cup in their hands
02 Dec 10 |  Football
Fifa chief denies bribery claims
01 Dec 10 |  Europe
Profiles: Fifa accused
30 Nov 10 |  UK


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