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SBD Global/October 2, 2013/International Football

FIFA Likely To Delay Decision On 2020 World Cup Dates, Will Set Up Task Force

Despite "widespread speculation that FIFA will vote to switch the dates of the 2022 World Cup on Friday," the governing body "will probably delay making a decision," according to Mike Collett of REUTERS. FIFA is expected to instead "set up a task force to analyse the huge implications of moving the tournament from the searing heat of the Middle East summer." Although the exec committee could agree in principle "to move the dates of the World Cup," FIFA VP Jim Boyce said that it "should not rush into a decision and he wanted a task force set up to examine the issue." Boyce: "We will discuss when the World Cup will be held (and) we will also consider the plight of immigrant workers in Qatar whose harsh living and working conditions made headlines last week." New IOC President Thomas Bach said that he "doubted the World Cup would clash with the Winter Olympics in 2022" if the finals were moved from their traditional June and July dates. Bach added that FIFA "was likely to opt for November 2022, if it switched" (REUTERS, 10/1).

GARCIA'S GLOBAL TOUR: In London, Owen Gibson reported FIFA Ethics Committee Investigatory Chair Michael Garcia will "begin a global evidence-gathering tour within the next fortnight to visit every country involved in the convoluted and controversial dual race" to host the 2018 and 2022 World Cups. Garcia, who "has stressed his independence" from the FIFA exec, has "confirmed he will conduct interviews with those involved in a race" that was ultimately won by Russia for '18 and Qatar for '22, but "refused to comment on the specifics." The process of gathering new witness statements "will be seen as a major escalation" in an investigation that some senior figures within world football believe "could yet lead to a re-vote" for the 2022 World Cup. Garcia "is expected to deliver his conclusions by March or April" (GUARDIAN, 9/30). INSIDE WORLD FOOTBALL's Andrew Warshaw reported until now, Garcia "has been mainly reliant on those with relevant information to approach him -- rather than the other way round." However, his decision to conduct interviews "would appear to represent an escalation in the effort to weed out any wrongdoing" (INSIDE WORLD FOOTBALL, 10/1).

AUSTRALIA READY TO MEET: In Sydney, Tom Smithies reported Football Federation Australia CEO Frank Lowy "is ready to meet FIFA investigators" as the probe into the awarding of the 2018 and 2022 World Cups continues. Lowy "has not yet received any formal request to meet Garcia, but would be keen to share his observations and experiences" of dealing with the various members of FIFA’s exec committee, a number of whom "have since been accused of corruption both in the bidding process and before." Lowy himself "spent a large amount of his own money in the months following Qatar’s win on private investigations, without finding anything concrete" (DAILY TELEGRAPH, 10/2).

LETTER IN THE MAIL: WORLD FOOTBALL INSIDER reported a former exec on England's failed World Cup bid said that "he had received a letter" via the FA last Friday, "which alerted him to Garcia’s probe." The exec said, "The amount of detail [in the letter] is incredibly lacking ... there’s no scope, no remit. It is hard to know what he is trying to achieve." The letter of only a few paragraphs, which has been sent to the other eight bidding countries, "does not mention the bribery allegations that tarnished the World Cup bidding process or explain what evidence Garcia is seeking." The former England bid official described the letter as “absolutely bizarre,” labeling it “classic FIFA.” He said, "Why would they not just try to explain?" (WORLD FOOTBALL INSIDER, 10/1).
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