Korea 2022 Reveals Host Cities; Garber Promotes US Bid; Indonesia Crisis

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President Lee Myung-bak met Platini during the UEFA chief's visit to Seoul where he signed a sponsorship agreement with Hyundai (Getty Images)
(WFI) Korea’s World Cup bid committee reveals 14 stadiums in 12 host cities as part of its bid to host the 2022 finals.

The north eastern city of Cheonan and Goyang, located on the borders of Seoul, join the 10 cities ― Seoul, Busan, Daegu, Incheon, Gwangju, Daejeon, Ulsan, Suwon, Jeonju and Jeju ― that hosted World Cup matches in 2002.

The committee received 15 host city applications but eliminated three ― Pohang, Cheongju and Muan.

The unveiling of the World Cup host cities comes three days after Korean President Lee Myung-bak met UEFA President Michel Platini to discuss his country’s bid to host the 2022 World Cup finals.

Platini, who sits on FIFA’s 24-man executive committee, was in Seoul to sign a UEFA sponsorship agreement with Hyundai. The car manufacturer signed up as automotive partner for the 2012 and 2016 European Championships.

"I hope Korea will host the 2022 World Cup finals. South and North Korea will be able to generate various symbolic effects through soccer," Lee was quoted by local media.

They were joined by Platini’s fell ex-co member Chung Mong-joon, and Han Sung-joo, chairman of the bidding committee.

In January, Lee met FIFA president Sepp Blatter at FIFA headquarters in Zurich.

MLS chief promotes bid at Soccerex
Major League Soccer commissioner Don Garber underlined the strengths of the US World Cup bid in his address to delegates at the Soccerex European Forum in Manchester this week

Speaking in a 1-to-1 interview, Garber dismissed the suggestion that US fans lack the passion of supporters in other countries, one criticism that came during what was regarded as a successful 1994 World Cup, still the best-attended tournament on record.

"In our World Cup bid we expect that there will be five million people that will attend games. That's a lot of people in a very short period of time," he told the Soccerex audience.

Emphasising the passion for football in the US, Garber said that last summer 75 international matches were held, in addition to MLS games, that attracted some two million fans in the space of just four weeks.

"93,000 came to see Barcelona play the LA Galaxy in the Rose Bowl in the middle of the week in the summer time in an exhibition game that didn't matter," he said.

He said recent research had revealed that 90 million people in US regarded themselves as soccer fans.

Garber said FIFA and its 24 executive committee members, who will decide the destination of the 2018 and 2022 World Cups in December, recognised the passion of US fans as did the clubs from Europe who have travelled there for pre-season tours.

"The passion exists in our country. When you go to an MLS game it is special. The fans are engaging with the game the same way as fans around the world," he said.

Asked for his assessment of how the US bid was progressing in the 2018/2022 bid race, Garber declined to comment.
Don Garber at the Soccerex European Forum in Manchester (WFI/ M. Bisson)

"We have got 18 cities that have been part of our technical requirement bid. The average stadium size is 77,000. We would expect that we are going sell out every game," he said. "We would expect to have ticket prices at $200 or 250 per ticket.

"The cities are getting behind it in ways that we have almost never seen before, and the mayors and governors have been part of that process."

The US bid has assembled an impressive board of directors that includes former U.S. secretary of state Henry A. Kissinger, New York City mayor Michael Bloomberg, ESPN executive vice president John Skipper, film director Spike Lee and MLS founding investor Philip Anschutz.

Garber added: "We have put together this group of people representing all walks of life that hopefully will be able to get to those [FIFA] executive committee members and say 'hey, here's why it's good for the sport, not just good for the United States, to bring the World Cup back some time over the next eight or 12 years'".

Journalists move to oust Indonesia bid chief

Indonesian FA (PSSI) president and World Cup bid leader Nurdin Halid faces a further challenge as journalists lobby FIFA to bring his removal.

Halid has become a national hate figure after he was blamed for the abysmal performance of the national team. Indonesia’s farcical efforts to host the 2022 World Cup finals have done little to add to his reputation.

The Indonesian Journalists Association (PWI) says that it is taking steps to bring his removal as PSSI president.

Head of the PWI organizing committee, Sumohadi Marsis, told the Jakarta Post that it is calling on the PSSI to bring an extraordinary congress “with the main item on the agenda of rooting out Nurdin and his cronies from the association.”

He added that the PWI’s “Plan B” is to lobby the AFC and FIFA to bring Halid’s dismissal.

With the PSSI considered a law unto itself, the latter measure may be more effective.

Halid ran the PSSI between September 2007 and November 2008 from his prison cell while serving a corruption sentence and is facing a further probe into his affairs.

His criminal past is in direct contravention of FIFA’s Code of Ethics. This demands officials demonstrate “a high degree of ethics and integrity” and says that those with a criminal record are ineligible for office if the offence is incompatible with their duties.

The code also makes specific reference to “financial matters” of which Halid is ultimately responsible. The PSSI treasurer was last week arrested on suspicion of murdering his wife.

The journalists will take inspiration from their Mexican counterparts, who precipitated regime change at the Mexican FA (FMF) in the late-1980s when they uncovered irregularities in the FMF’s governance. This included the doctoring of birth certificates to field over age players in Mexico’s youth teams, for which the country were ultimately banned from international football for two years – a period that included the 1990 World Cup finals.

Nearly a month after the Indonesian government refused to provide FIFA with necessary letters of guarantee, Indonesia remains in the bid race after football’s governing body refuse to confirm the country’s disqualification.

With reporting by James Corbett and Mark Bisson
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