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Monday, 1 July, 2002, 03:27 GMT 04:27 UK

Fifa praises World Cup

Fifa has called the first Asian World Cup a "success" after Brazil beat Germany 2-0 in the final thanks to two goals from Ronaldo.

In the end the hooligans and terrorists stayed away and the obstacles posed by hosting the 64-match tournament in two countries with difficult historical relations were overcome with no major hitches.

"It is the global game, it's come to Asia and it's succeeded," said Fifa spokesman Keith Cooper.

"I think there's no doubt about that."

Fifa president Sepp Blatter also applauded the co-hosts' respective sets of supporters.

During the tournament millions of South Koreans spilled out on to the streets to will their team to the semi-final.

Likewise the Japanese fans followed their team passionately to the second round, but were also equally at home and just as good natured wearing the colours of England, Brazil or Senegal.

"We have had a wonderful public - the public has created in the stadia such a positive ambience," said Blatter.

Brazil might have beaten Germany in the final but the old order did suffer a few shocks along the way.

Japan and especially South Korea played havoc with European reputations as they reached the second round, providing some of the great upsets that made up for the lack of a truly classic game.

And the co-hosts' success has seen Asia already push for an extra place in the 2006 World Cup.

Cooper said rumours of discord between the two organisations had mainly been a media invention.

"Obviously from time to time they've disagreed.

"But in four years' time you're probably going to find that Hamburg is going to disagree with Frankfurt, or Stuttgart is going to disagree with Berlin about something or other."

Not that the tournament did not have its hiccups, notably with ticketing problems, poor refereeing, some mediocre football and the very mixed weather.

The tournament's biggest problem was over ticketing.

That led to a slanging match between Japan and Fifa's British-based ticketing agent Byrom over the thousands of empty seats that marred some of the opening games and Japan's crucial second-round game against Turkey.

Apart from that, headlines mostly concerned the surprise results and refereeing problems.

The ultimate testament to the tournament's success was that Cooper did not rule out a future World Cup being co-hosted.

"From a technical point of view, I think this has proved that it can be done."

While Fifa weighed up what went right and what went wrong, a sea of yellow and green washed over Brazil as the country took to the streets to celebrate an unprecedented fifth World Cup title.

The win over Germany helped wipe away Brazil's 3-0 loss to the French at the last World Cup four years ago, when Ronaldo had cut a forlorn figure after suffering a fit hours before the game.

Understandably the mood in Germany was less upbeat as the nation came to terms with Brazil's victory.

A slip-up from goalkeeping hero Oliver Kahn for Ronaldo's first goal played a major part in Germany's defeat.

Prior to the final, Kahn had been named the tournament's best goalkeeper after he had conceded just one goal in six games.

Even so Germany did have the consolation that no-one had expected them to reach the final - two weeks before the tournament started, only 5% of Germans believed the team would emerge as champions.

And as hosts of the 2006 World Cup Germany will not have to qualify, though ironically Brazil will have to participate in the South American qualifiers if they are to defend their crown in Europe.


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