CAMPAIGNS: Judge and Jury - Politics muddies the fate of the beautiful game’s top tournament. The race to host the World Cup in 2006 has become something of a political issue, says Gerry McCusker, senior adviser at PR and sponsorship consultancy V

As the campaigns to influence decision-makers at football’s governing body intensify, last week saw the official presentation of proposal documents at FIFA headquarters in Zurich.

As the campaigns to influence decision-makers at football’s

governing body intensify, last week saw the official presentation of

proposal documents at FIFA headquarters in Zurich.



The strongest bidder, England, has effectively communicated in the

press, broadcast media and internet how it has all the requisite stadia,

telecoms, transport, hotels and security provisions.



Football legend Sir Geoff Hurst and English teenage soccer sensation

Michael Owen both played ’a blinder’ on the PR front for a rather

bullish ’We are ready. We are right’ campaign.



With impeccable timing, England revealed plans for a pounds 200 million

redevelopment of Wembley - the ’home of football’ - plus discounted

ticket price schemes for kids in a move to convince FIFA that the 2006

World Cup finals belong in Blighty.



Germany, though, has an infrastructure and a public appetite for the

game comparable to England.



It also has the ear of many key influencers at FIFA. And Germany

mud-slingingly insists that England broke a ’gentleman’s agreement’

whereby England had agreed not to bid for the World Cup if it was

awarded the Euro ’96 tournament (which it was).



Bid leader, the influential Franz Beckenbauer, also has an impressive

pedigree, being the only man to have won the World Cup as both player

and manager.



Meanwhile, Brazil and Morocco, are adjudged to be presenting flawed

cases.



The world’s greatest ever footballer, the Brazilian Pele, has been

widely reported as saying that his country would be bankrupted if it

tried to stage the event, while Morocco is generally perceived to be the

second-string African bid.



South Africa’s pitch has a simple theme - ’It’s Our Turn’. The continent

has never staged a World Cup before, the African nations play the game

with imagination-capturing zest and the world’s best loved politician,

Nelson Mandela, is prepared to back the bid.



FIFA president Sepp Blatter has publicly expressed his support for the

bid, declaring that to award the finals to South Africa might be the

politically right thing to do.



And that’s the key: even if each bid satisfies FIFA’s criteria, the

contract award may have little to do with the pitch and more to do with

politics.



All of us in consultancy have been there.



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