FIFA says NO ... or not?

TERRY JONES -- Edmonton Sun

, Last Updated: 6:23 AM ET

It was exceptionally early in the morning here when Nicholas Maingot returned the call from FIFA House in Zurich yesterday.

\"This will not happen,\'\' said the FIFA spokesman of Edmonton\'s chances of hosting six games of group play in a joint U.S.-Canada 2003 relocated Women\'s World Cup concept.

\"It has already been decided by FIFA,\" he stressed.

\"We will not accept a co-hosting. The Canadian offer has already been refused.

\"It has already been dealt with - quite simply and quite rapidly.\'\'

Maingot said Canada had been informed of the decision and added the Korea-Japan 2002 World Cup was an exception. He suggested FIFA has no intention of ever doing it again, even in these highly unusual circumstances.

The Canadian offer of co-hosting one group of the to-be-relocated Women\'s World Cup, which was removed from China due to the SARS epidemic, thus appeared to blow up on the launching pad.

Or did it?

Calling CEO Kevan Pipe for reaction from the CSA offices, I was put in the position of breaking the news to him.

\'FIRST I\'VE HEARD OF IT.\'

\"First I\'ve heard of it,\'\' he said. \"Let me get back to you.\'\'

Three hours later, when it was into the evening in Europe, Pipe phoned back.

\"We have nothing to tell us that,\'\' he said.

\"We\'ve had no telephone call, no telegram, no e-mail, no fax and no transcendental meditation.\'\'

Furthermore, he said, he\'d contacted Jack Warner, head of CONCACAF, who backed the move by Canada to host a group in the event, as expected, the United States would be selected as an emergency host.

He said Warner had received no communication from FIFA.

\"Neither the Canadian Soccer Association nor CONCACAF has received anything rejecting our offer,\'\' said Pipe.

That makes the statement to The Sun out of FIFA House even more mysterious.

Warner told Pipe it\'s impossible for FIFA to kill the Canadian offer out of hand.

He said he was in Zurich for FIFA meetings when it was agreed to make the relocation decision by either the emergency committee or the executive committee.

The emergency committee is made up of seven members and the executive committee is composed of 24 members. Warner is a member of both.

After having their high hopes of hosting a 2007 Women\'s World Cup dashed by the FIFA decision to give China 2007, having this offer rejected out of hand would amount to a double whammy for Canadian soccer.

\"We know FIFA is not excited about co-hosting, but we are looking at this as a forced measures situation and Jack Warner is looking at this as a forced measures situation. And as the president of CONCACAF he\'s supporting our offer because he thinks it\'s in the best interest of the event,\'\' said Pipe.

\"We know it would be a success. Jack Warner knows it would be a success. All we are doing is putting our best foot forward. We\'re making an offer which we believe would add more to the event.\'\'

FIFA had its most spectacular Women\'s World Cup success ever four years ago with USA 1999.

The event drew 1,214,209 spectators - an average of 37,944 per game.

The final drew 90,000 fans to the Rose Bowl in Pasadena. In fact, four games were played in that facility with an average crowd of 53,643. One was played in Stanford Stadium in California with a crowd of 73,123. Four games were played in Giants Stadium in New Jersey with an average of 54,187. Four games in Soldier Field in Chicago averaged 49,668; five in Foxboro Stadium in New England averaged 31,938; six in Jack Kent Cooke Stadium in Washington, D.C., averaged 31,066; four in Spartan Stadium in San Jose averaged 22,355 and four in Civic Stadium in Portland averaged 18,899.

Canada drew 29,401 against Russia in Giants Stadium; 23,298 against Japan in San Jose and 16,448 against Norway in Washington, D.C. USA 1999 was a dramatic improvement from Sweden \'96, which drew 112,213 fans in total - an average of 4,316 a game.

Edmonton, for six dates at last year\'s inaugural FIFA U-19 Women\'s World Championship drew 162,207 fans for six doubleheaders including a sold-out Commonwealth Stadium 48 hours before game time (47,784 of the ticketed fans turned the turnstiles) for the golden goal final against the U.S.

The U.S.A. offer features a no-frills, scaled-down hosting from 1999 and the use of several smaller stadiums.

Pipe and Warner intend on getting up very early this morning to hook up with FIFA House to find out what in heck is happening.


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