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Last Updated: Friday, 7 May, 2004, 14:56 GMT 15:56 UK
Libya: No-hopers?
Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi
Muammar Gaddafi is a supporter of Libya's bid
Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi has made strides in recent months in putting behind his country's reputation as an anti-Western sponsor of international terrorism.

But it remains to be seen whether Fifa believes he has made enough progress to be granted what is arguably the world's most popular sports event.

Observers say Libya's bid for the right to host the 2010 World Cup finals should, indeed, be seen as part of a greater effort to end its image as a pariah state.

Al Hadi al-Warfali, a senior Libyan politician, portrayed the World Cup bid as part of the country's attempt to come in from the cold.

"This Cup will enable people to see Libya for what it really is and change their negative impressions of it," he said.

This Cup will enable people to see Libya for what it really is
Al Hadi al-Warfali
Libya's rehabilitation, beginning with the ending of sanctions and more recently the dismantling of its nuclear weapons capacity, has given legitimacy to the regime of Muammar Gaddafi.

But the quirky nature of Libya's bid mirrors much of the eccentricity of the oil-rich north African country and in reality it has virtually no chance of succeeding.

Fifa inspectors reported that "Libya would face great difficulties in organising a World Cup to the standards required".

They summarised the main problems as a lack of experience in organising international sports events, insufficient time to prepare their cities to welcome the World Cup, and a lack of accommodation, entertainment or leisure for fans.

Fifa are also unhappy with Libya - as they are with Tunisia - for persisting with the idea of co-hosting the 2010 event along with the Tunisians.

Libya's bid is led by Al Saad Gaddafi, the son of the Libyan leader who is a player at Italian Serie A club Perugia.

Al Saad Gaddafi
Al Saad plays for Perugia in Italy
Gaddafi is both the de-facto leader of the Libyan football federation, where he holds the title of vice president, and an international striker.

But cynics say he owes his occasional place in the Libyan national side more to his family ties than his ability with a football.

He has been seen little on the lobbying circuit over the last two years and Libya's campaign has had little public relations exposure internationally.

But bid organisers have made little secret of the fact that they hope that the country's oil wealth will be a overwhelming allure to the world of football.

Libya has promised a staggering $3,6 billion investment in stadiums, training sites, hotels, transports facilities and other infrastructure.

"We are capable of realising huge projects," said former Libyan finance minister al-Ujayli Abd-al-Salam Burayni.

"We believe that Libya's financial means make it a host venue for Fifa."


Key facts about Libya

Area: 1,795m square kilometres
Population: 5.5 million
Capital: Tripoli (1.8 million inhabitants)
Leader: Muammar Gaddafi
Languages: Arabic, Berber
Football Association founded: 1962
Joined Fifa: 1963
Joined Caf: 1963
Clubs: 100
Registered footballers: 29,700

Libya have never before qualified for the World Cup finals and did not play in the qualifiers during their years of international isolation.

Their best achievement was reaching the final of the 1982 African Nations Cup tournament, which they hosted. They were beaten on penalties by Ghana.

Libya has made two unsuccessful bids to host the 2004 and 2006 African Nations Cup finals and is a candidate again for the 2008 event.


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