\'It can be done\'

TERRY JONES -- Edmonton Sun

, Last Updated: 8:45 AM ET

It\'s not \"no.\" It\'s \"go.\"

\"I talked to Sepp Blatter and he assured me the door is open to Canada,\'\' said CONCACAF president Jack Warner of the all-powerful FIFA boss.

\"We talked about this item specifically and he told me the door is not closed.

\"He didn\'t give me one single reason why it can\'t be done.\'\'

The designated FIFA spokesman keeps saying \"That\'s All Folks.\" But Warner says this cartoon is just getting started.

This Jack Warner is not head of Warner Bros. but the president of the North America, Caribbean and Central America area of the soccer world. And he says no matter what the FIFA spokesman keeps saying, on with the show, this is it.

\"Our bid is definitely alive and kicking,\'\' said Kevan Pipe, CEO of the Canadian Soccer Association.

\"What Jack told you is exactly what he told me at 7 a.m. All our information tells us it can be done in Edmonton,\'\' he said of bringing a quarter of the relocated Women\'s World Cup to Commonwealth Stadium.

Warner said he believes it has a good chance of happening.

\"CONCACAF is supportive of co-hosting in this situation,\'\' he said of the event which has been taken away from China because of the SARS epidemic.

\"It will be decided by the FIFA emergency committee. I am on that committee,\'\' he said of the seven-man contingent which will decide where the event will be relocated.

\"Canada justified to the world they can do it with the FIFA U-19 women\'s world championships. They made that event in Edmonton into a marvel.

\"I intend to use my office to see it be realized,\'\' he said of a CONCACAF-area co-hosting situation with the U.S.

The plan would be six games for the four-country group that includes Canada, with the additional possibility of a quarter-final match to be played in Edmonton.

\"I\'ll give it my best shot,\'\' promised Warner. \"I believe that it can be done and should be done. I believe it would be a viable and successful undertaking.

\"I don\'t see the United States objecting to sharing with somebody else. I don\'t see the U.S. objecting to two CONCACAF partners.

\"By giving China 2007 it has cost Canada\'s bid.\"

Warner\'s pronouncement sent the CSA into action.

\"I received a very, very pleasant phone call,\'\' said Pipe, about how his day began before dawn yesterday.

\"We had a very positive development.

\"It doesn\'t mean we\'re going to get it, but it means we\'re going to get a very fair shake, that our bid is going to get fair consideration. We\'re even more positive now than we were 48 hours ago.\'\'

Pipe spent the previous 24 hours concerned about comments from FIFA spokesman Nicholas Maingot saying, \"The Canadian offer has been refused. It has already been dealt with - quite simply and quite rapidly.\'\'

Contacted again yesterday in Zurich, Maingot - while he couldn\'t reach FIFA boss Sepp Blatter to confirm or deny - said he\'s mystified with the statements from Canada and CONCACAF.

\"FIFA\'s position today is exactly the same as it was yesterday. We\'d like to thank Canada for bidding to hold some games in Edmonton, but a co-hosting is not possible. This will not happen.\'\'

The U.S., meanwhile, is staying out of it.

\"We\'re still at such an early stage, what we\'re doing to this point is only about the United States,\'\' said Soccer USA spokesman Jim Morehouse.

\"Ultimately, something like what Canada and CONCACAF are proposing would be up to FIFA. We\'re proceeding with a U.S.-only bid. If FIFA wants to bring it to the USA, with a group playing in Edmonton, that\'s great. But that\'s not part of anything we\'re doing right now. We\'re putting together a plan which says, \'This is our vision and here\'s what we can do.\' \'\'

The Americans, who played host to the wildly successful Women\'s World Cup in 1999, are already on record as saying they would hold a no-frills, scaled-down version of the event this time. Pipe says they\'ll offer more than that for a group in Canada.

\"Now we\'re really putting something together,\'\' said Pipe. \"We\'re sending a proposal for a first-class hosting of the Canadian group in Edmonton, which we think makes excellent common sense.\'\'

The CSA has checked out hotel rooms at the Westin and Sheraton Grande hotels yesterday and Gary Sampley of Alberta Soccer blocked off Commonwealth Stadium dates from Sept. 19 to Oct. 17 - subject to the rescheduling of their Sept. 26 date against the B.C. Lions - on their behalf. Sampley yesterday also booked practice facilities in Edmonton for that period.

Warner says he believes the decision on the Sept. 23-Oct. 17 event will be made next weekend.

It may already be a soap opera. But it won\'t have a long run.


Videos

Photos