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
Meanwhile, Brazil and Morocco, are adjudged to be presenting flawed
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
All of us in consultancy have been there.