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FIFA MAKES EXECUTIVE DECISION TO SPLIT WORLD CUP 2002
Published June 3, 1996
South Korea and Japan, the two contenders to stage the 2002 World Cup, were told Friday to co-host the event, according to the FINANCIAL TIMES. The "unprecedented decision" forces the two historically antagonistic countries to share the responsibilities and revenue of the event and was an "embarrassment" for FIFA President Joao Havalange who had backed Japan's bid. Japanese officials described the decision as "unfair and foresaw serious disputes over which country would host the opening ceremony and the final." The decision will "force FIFA to begin new negotiations on broadcasting rights" to the Cup, as initial offers were taken on the "assumption that the competition would be staged in one country" (FINANCIAL TIMES, 6/1). The move "dilutes the economic benefits of the games," and the "biggest headache is expected to come in deciding which country will stage the final match" (Shirouzu & Cho, WALL STREET JOURNAL, 6/3). The move was "a major victory for the Koreans" and a "fierce disappointment for Japan." The Japanese spent a reported $75M on their bid, establishing a pro soccer league to gain "global credibility" (John Powers, BOSTON GLOBE, 6/1). U.S. Soccer Federation President Alan Rothenberg called the ramifications "huge," adding, "There is a background of animosity and a lot of hurdles ahead" (George Vecsey, N.Y. TIMES, 6/2). In Washington, John Haydon notes "FIFA's decision was a big surprise, but ultimately the right one" (WASHINGTON TIMES, 6/1). NEWS & NOTES: FIFA also awarded the '99 Women's World Cup to the U.S., with U.S. officials regarding DC's RFK Stadium as the leading site for the semifinals and finals (Berkowitz & Sullivan, WASHINGTON POST, 6/1)....IMG is reportedly one of two candidates to take control of the French soccer club Olympique Marseille. The offer is part of a strategy to extend IMG into the "hugely profitable and growing business" of European soccer (FINANCIAL TIMES, 6/1).