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Last Updated: Friday, 7 May, 2004, 16:16 GMT 17:16 UK
'Fifa reports sow confusion'
Saad Kettani
Kettani says Morocco is the 'frontrunner on all accounts'
The head of Morocco's bid to host the 2010 World Cup has slammed a Fifa evaluation which saw the North African nation slip to third place among five contenders.

Saad Kettani charged that key areas of a technical report were wrongheaded and suggested that it may have been intended to undermine his country's chances.

Kettani said the study contained "discrepancies and glaring contradictions and failed to reflect the reality that Morocco scores as a frontrunner on all counts".

The Fifa technical report on the five bidding nations clearly identified South Africa as the favourite, with Egypt in second place, and Morocco a distant third.

The aim of the report was to sow confusion among our supporters
Saad Kettani
Morocco bid chief
Tunisia and Libya were all but told to try again next time.

Kettani fumed; "Everything so far had shown we were neck-and-neck with South Africa.

"I suspect that the aim of the report was to sow confusion among our supporters.

But I don't think that can work. People have their heads on their shoulders."

He declined to identify anyone who may have influenced the content of the Fifa report.

Neither would he say how many - or which - members of Fifa's 24-man executive committee he expected to back Morocco as host in a vote next week.

"I don't want this to be seen as an attack on the Fifa inspection team. But I want to set things straight for the public and the voters," said Kettani.

In an election decisions will be made mainly by heart or by spirit
Sepp Blatter
Fifa president
At Fifa headquarters in Zurich, Switzerland, spokesman Andreas Herren said the world body would make no comment on the reports until its executive examines them formally on 14 May, the day before it chooses the winner.

In comments that could revive bidders' hopes, Fifa president Sepp Blatter on Friday described the inspection reports as "technical" documents, and said the race is not over.

"Now it's an election, and in an election decisions will be made mainly by heart or by spirit and not so definitely by documents presented by a group," Blatter said.

Kettani also rejected Fifa's claims that Morocco's public hospitals are not up to scratch, noting that the country was 29th in a 197-nation ranking by the World Health Organization.

Egypt is 63rd and South Africa 175th.

Many of Kettani's other concerns hinge on subtle differences in wording.

The Fifa reports gave marks for public enthusiasm at the prospect of hosting the World Cup - "huge" in South Africa, Egypt and Libya, "normal" in Tunisia and Morocco.

"This is insulting to Moroccan fans. It's unfair," charged Kettani. When you think African football, you think Morocco."


SEE ALSO
Blatter: 'Reports not final word'
07 May 04  |  African
SA lead 2010 race
04 May 04  |  African
Morocco: Fourth time lucky?
07 May 04  |  African



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