Bidding for the World Cup

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This story is based on a radio interview. Listen to the full interview.

Audio Transcript:

Marco Werman: Soccer fans will soon learn which countries will host the World Cup in 2018 and 2022. The sport's governing body, FIFA, is set to vote Thursday. World leaders are lobbying the members of FIFA at its headquarters in Zurich. Attorney General, Eric Holder, and former President, Bill Clinton, will be there tomorrow to pitch for the USA. But it's not all fun and games. A report by the BBC, a co-producer of this program, alleges corrupt dealings by four voters from FIFA's executive committee. The World's William Troop is on the story. It seems like being selected to host the World Cup, William, it's a bit like being picked to be put on the Olympics isn't it? There's a lot at stake.

William Troop: It's very similar to that and the money that surrounds these events is huge, and for everybody involved. And that really is what drives uh, all these allegations of corruption.

Werman: So, what did the BBC report about corruption in FIFA actually unearth?

Troop: Well, the BBC says it has seen um, a list of secret payments from a marketing company that was involved in trying to win the rights for marketing the FIFA brand and the World Cup brand uh, to sponsors and TV companies. And that this company made something like 175 secret payments to members of the FIFA executive committee. And the BBC has not been able to track down all of those payments, but it has been able to track down enough of those payments to name three members of the current FIFA executive committee as recipients of the bribes.

Werman: Is there any allegation that ties bribes to placing the World Cup in a certain country? I mean Brazil is supposed to host it in 2014. Is that going to come back and hurt Brazil at some point?

Troop: Well, it seems that what's decided already is done and they move onto the business of making money the next time they host this tournament. There have been allegations for years that the process is rife with corruption, but nothing has been proven in court; no FIFA executive committee members have been convicted of briberty, although there there are investigations pending right now.

Werman: And remind us, William, Eric Holder and uh former President Clinton will be lobbying for the U.S.' bid for 2022. Uh, who are some of the other countries at the head of the line for both 2022 and the World Cup in 2018?

Troop: So 2018 comes first. The bidders in that process are England, Russia, the Netherlands and Belgium together for hosting jointly, and also Spain and Portugal together to host jointly. The front runners there seem to be England and Russia. For 2022, the U.S. is up against four other bids from Japan, Korea, Australia, and Qatar. And it seems like it's gonna be a case for both editions of the world cup where the FIFA members have to decide are they gonna go for the sure thing, which uh for 2018 could be England and for 2022 could be the U.S., nations that have all the infrastructure in place, very little needs to be spent to build new stadiums, which basically can guarantee a big profit. Or do they go with countries where soccer still needs to make larger in-roads, like Russia where there's very little infrastructure in place. They would have to build all new stadiums. Or Qatar, which is obviously in the Gulf region and where there's a lot of money right now, which is finding it's way into the world of soccer.

Werman: The World's William Troop, thanks very much.

Troop: You're welcome.