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Thursday, 6 July, 2000, 15:22 GMT 16:22 UK
Why South Africa's Cup bid failed
Soccer fans in Pretoria
Bitter disappointment at the news
South Africa has failed in its bid to host the 2006 football World Cup, losing to Germany by a single vote.

President Thabo Mbeki has described the result as a setback in Africa's efforts to gain international sporting recognition.

A successful bid by South Africa would have made it the first African nation to host soccer's top international tournament, and it had been widely tipped to succeed.


Next time we will win
Thabo Mbeki
Announcing the result in the Swiss city of Zurich, Fifa president Sepp Blatter said ballots had been split 12-11 in the final round of voting.

The only other African contender, Morocco, was eliminated in the first round of voting, with England being excluded in the next round.

"Of course the disappointment we're experiencing today is a setback to our efforts at gaining the recognition that Africa deserves in the internatonal sporting community," President Mbeki said in a live televised address, minutes after the announcement.

"We are confident that our bid was sound in all respects but a few of the final arbiters, from their unique vantage point, clearly had their own view different from ours," Mr Mbeki said

"Once more, our best wishes to the winning nation," he added.

"Next time we will win."

Unlike England and Germany, South Africa's campaign team had no thoroughbred stock of soccer icons of its own.

Instead, it staked its hopes on the global reputation of Nelson Mandela, and the symbolic value of the country's recent transition to democracy.

A vote for South Africa was seen as a vote for Africa - which has never hosted a World Cup tournament before, despite exporting some of the world's finest soccer players to Europe and other parts of the world - as well as a vote for developing countries.

Nelson Mandela wears South Africa's colours
Mandela: South Africa's most powerful advocate
Many argued that it is time to break the stranglehold countries in Europe have had on the World Cup.

Mr Blatter was elected to the Fifa presidency on a wave of African votes, promising to deliver the World Cup to the continent for the first time.

Stadiums

But some pointed out that South Africa's infrastructural development does not match that of Germany - even though South Africa has some top class football and rugby grounds, ready to be upgraded into stadiums worthy of the World Cup showdown.

The country has already played host to the Rugby World Cup in 1995, and the African Nations Cup in 1996.

Cape Town made a bid - but failed - to host the 2004 Olympics.

But the cricket's governing body has already signalled that South Africa would be the suitable venue for the Cricket World Cup in 2003.

Crime

South Africa's biggest drawback was the high rate of crime on its city streets, especially the business capital, Johannesburg.

A South Africa fan
The World Cup would arouse huge excitement in South Africa
South Africa's campaign team had promised that 10% of its budget would be used to tackle the crime menace.

Transport was another problem to be tackled. Some of the proposed stadiums were a long way from tourist hotels, and the dangerous, crowded minibus taxis remain the backbone of public transport.

And few African soccer fans have the means to make the journey south, as witnessed by the overwhelmingly South African crowds at the 1996 Cup of Nations.

South Africa's location, a 12-hour flight away from the affluent soccer fans of Europe, could have deterred those supporters from making the journey.

Broadcasting

South Africa's time zone - the same as central Europe during the northern hemisphere summer - was seen as a factor in its advantage, making things simple for the lucrative European television broadcasts.

The South African winter weather ranges from cool to mild - and although Cape Town can be very wet at that time of year, the rest of the country enjoys clear skies.

As Nelson Mandela put it when he argued South Africa's case, "it's Africa's time".

As far as the World Cup is concerned, it will take at least another four years for Africa's time to come round again.

 WATCH/LISTEN
 ON THIS STORY
The BBC's Jane Standley
"People are walking away with tears in their eyes"
See also:

29 Jun 00 | 2006 World Cup decision
06 Jul 00 | 2006 World Cup decision
06 Jul 00 | 2006 World Cup decision
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