SBD/Issue 56/Events & Attractions

FIFA Corruption Casts A Shadow Over Thursday's World Cup Voting

Continued allegations of corruption involving top FIFA officials have "called into question the integrity of Thursday’s votes that will decide the host countries" for the '18 and '22 World Cups, the latter of which is being sought by the U.S., according to Jere Longman of the N.Y. TIMES. The Swiss chapter of anticorruption organization Transparency Int'l has "called for the votes to be postponed until 'full light is shed' on a spate of recent bribery allegations published and broadcast by European news media." FIFA, which is based in Zurich and will host tomorrow's vote in the Swiss city, has given "no indication that it would delay" the voting (N.Y. TIMES, 12/1). In DC, Steve Goff notes allegations that two FIFA officials "tried to sell their votes" are "casting a large shadow over the vote." While those two officials have been suspended, "others have also been accused of unethical behavior" (WASHINGTON POST, 12/1). Russia Minister of Sport Vitaly Mutko, Chair of the country's bid for the '18 World Cup and one of 22 FIFA Exec Committee members scheduled to vote, said yesterday that if the "Spain-Portugal bid wins for 2018 and Qatar wins for 2022 there will be questions of whether the vote was fixed because of the unproved allegations of an alliance between those two bids." Mutko said, "We do not support any alliances or collusion. We would like that not to happen" (WSJ.com, 11/30).

Clinton Among U.S. Dignitaries
In Zurich Lobbying For '22 Bid

CASEY AT THE BAT: Former President Bill Clinton and WMG Chair & CEO Casey Wasserman flew last night to Zurich to join the delegation and lend support for the U.S. Bid Committee lobbying to bring the '22 World Cup to the U.S. Clinton, a long time friend of Wasserman, has been very public about his support for the U.S. to host the World Cup. Clinton and Wasserman are expected to arrive on Wasserman’s plane in Zurich in time for tomorrow's vote by FIFA, a source said. A spokesperson for Wasserman declined to comment on Wasserman’s or Clinton’s private travel plans. The U.S. is competing to host the event in '22 against Australia, Japan, Qatar and South Korea. Clinton is the honorary Chair of the bid committee and Wasserman is one of the committee's board members. L.A. is one of 18 U.S. cities that could host '22 World Cup matches, and the multi-purpose stadium Wasserman is working with AEG to develop in downtown L.A. could become a host site for those World Cup games. Wasserman joined the board of the U.S. Bid Committee for the FIFA World Cup long before concrete plans for a downtown L.A. NFL stadium surfaced in the media (Mullen & Mickle, SportsBusiness Journal). Clinton, U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder, USSF President Sunil Gulati, Galaxy F Landon Donovan and actor Morgan Freeman were expected to be part of the bid's final presentation to FIFA's Exec Committee (AP, 11/29).

TOP OF THE TABLE: REUTERS' Mike Collett reported a confidential report prepared for FIFA by consulting firm McKinsey contends that World Cups held in England ('18) and the U.S. ('22) would "meet all of FIFA's projected revenue targets and deliver bigger profits to world soccer's governing body than any of their competitors." McKinsey awarded both England and the U.S. "an unbeatable overall 100 percent rating." FIFA commissioned the firm to "analyse each bid across five key revenue streams: sponsorship, ticketing, hospitality, licensing and media rights" (REUTERS, 11/30). In Newark, Frank Giase wrote it is "clear England, which hasn’t hosted a World Cup since 1966, and the United States are the frontrunners, but nothing is certain, and there is always the possibility of an anti-U.S. backlash despite the record revenue and attendance produced" at the '94 World Cup (Newark STAR-LEDGER, 11/30). Gulati said, "Different things matter to different people. This is an election. It’s not only about the reports" (WSJ.com, 11/30).

Qatar Making A Strong Case To Host '22 Event,
Largely Due To Financial Strengths

STIFF COMPETITION: In Philadelphia, Kerith Gabriel notes while "many experts believe the U.S. is the favorite" for the '22 World Cup, "Qatar in recent weeks has been viewed as a major competitor, promising to dump in excess of $50 billion toward building technologically advanced facilities should FIFA approve the nation of a little more than 1.69 million citizens" (PHILADELPHIA DAILY NEWS, 12/1). In L.A., Grahame Jones notes the "deep-pocket Qataris are the main worry" for the U.S. Qatar, which "wants the World Cup and has the financial clout to get it," already has "five extraordinary stadiums under construction" (L.A. TIMES, 12/1). FOXSPORTS.com's Ives Galarcep noted the FIFA report on the U.S. bid indicates that "there just isn't much FIFA can point to that's wrong with the bid." The Australian bid is the "only other bid that makes sense as a legitimate rival," since FIFA's study of Qatar's bid was "rife with serious questions" about its validity and the "ability of the Arab nation to deliver what it is promising" (FOXSPORTS.com, 11/30).

A HUGE MOMENT FOR THE U.S.: SI.com's Steve Davis noted MLS officials "recognize the spectacular growth opportunities World Cup 2022 could create for the league and domestic soccer in general." MLS Commissioner Don Garber: "If we do prevail, then between now and 2022 we will have a 12-year run that will change this league and the sport in America forever." Aside from the "boon to development of fans and players, it's mostly about leverage." Davis: "Imagine Garber and Gulati going to the networks for contract talks. Consider their favorable place at the bargaining table as they bundled MLS and national team matches with World Cup rights" (SI.com, 11/29). Garber: "If we win, we'll have over 10 years to work with cities, stadiums, sponsors, broadcasters and the entire soccer community to harness the whole power of the world's most popular sporting event" (SI.com, 11/30). He added, "Clearly for us, there is nothing that we could do in the United States, whether it be our federation or Major League Soccer, that would be more important than having the World Cup here in our country" (AP, 11/30).

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