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Wednesday, 5 July, 2000, 21:41 GMT
World Cup bids reach final hurdle
Tony Banks and Sir Bobby Charlton
Banks and Charlton relax after presenting England's bid
Four countries are going before Fifa's executive committee in the final hours of the race to host the 2006 World Cup.

England's presentation in the Swiss city of Zurich was led by one of its footballing heroes, Sir Bobby Charlton.

He talked of the passion for the game in England and its deep roots in a multi-ethnic Britain, while the government's World Cup envoy, Tony Banks, referred to new measures to stamp out football hooliganism.

With voting due on Thursday, this marks the final stage of the gruelling bid process for South Africa, Germany, England and Morocco.



Your vote means much more to me than any of my past achievements
  Bobby Charlton
"I feel passionately about England's bid," Charlton told the committee.

"Your vote means much more to me than any of my past achievements.

"We believe England offers you something unique, something special, something different.

"I've been part of English football for more than 50 years and I can tell you that we have never been better placed to give you, Fifa, a World Cup that will be a true attraction and that will be safe for everyone," he said.

Favourites

South Africa remain hot favourites to win the right to stage the tournament after the fifth nation, Brazil, pulled out earlier this week, pledging their vote - along with that of the other South American countries - to them.


Roger Milla
Cameroon soccer star Roger Milla is helping South Africa's campaign
"Africa's time has come," said former president Nelson Mandela, in a specially-recorded address.

"The World Cup should be hosted by South Africa in 2006 and if that happened it would fulfil not only my dreams, but those of an entire nation."

Bid leader Danny Jordaan closed the presentation.

"We are asking you to turn despair into hope," he told the executive.

"Giving the World Cup to South Africa is not a risk. It is an opportunity to strengthen the global character of the game."

Although Sir Bobby Charlton has publicly refused to admit the bid is scuppered, most observers believe it will take an unlikely late comeback for England to get the nod.

Beckenbauer

And despite apparently admitting that they had little chance of beating the South Africans, German supremo Franz Beckenbauer put in an impressive performance.



You may think that we have already hosted one, but then we were divided between East and West Germany
  Franz Beckenbauer
He called on German tennis ace Boris Becker as well as super model Claudia Schiffer and was confidently cracking jokes.

Alluding to the crime problems in South Africa, Beckenbauer produced a model of a hotel to show Sepp Blatter and told him: "You'll be secure there."

And just as South Africa have played heavily on their rebirth as a nation, so Beckenbauer used the the fact that Germany is now a united country.

"You may think that we have already hosted one [1974] but then we were divided - between East and West Germany - now we are united," he said.

Morocco are the rank outsiders, but they feel they have as much right as South Africa to host their continent's first World Cup.

"Morocco claims the right for it - and through it for Africa - to hold the finals of this major event," said sports minister Ahmed Moussaoui.

The Moroccan delegation also highlighted the country's low crime-rate and its proximity to Europe.

Bid leader Driss Benhima finished by emphasising that it is Africa's turn. "Europe has made a very great mistake. They should not have presented any bids," he said.

"It would have been better not only for the world of football, but also for European football.

"I really think that Africa will have a World Cup in 2006. It will be Morocco or it will be South Africa. In both cases we shall be very happy on behalf of our continent," he concluded.


Sir Bobby Charlton
Journalists watch Charlton's presentation on a video screen
The 24-man committee is meeting in Zurich, and the South Africans are understood to be confident of at least 12 of the available votes.

Members of the committee have been asked to place each bid in order of preference.

After the first round of voting the country with the fewest votes will drop out and their votes will then be given to the bid ranked second by that voter.

This process will continue with one country being knocked out and their votes reallocated until there are two bidders left and there is a straight knock-out.

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See also:

05 Jul 00 |  2006 World Cup decision
Charlton sticks to his guns
04 Jul 00 |  2006 World Cup decision
Morocco chief slams Brazilian withdrawal
04 Jul 00 |  2006 World Cup decision
Germany face defeat
04 Jul 00 |  2006 World Cup decision
Charlton not giving up
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