Spain, Portugal `Moderately Confident' of Hosting 2018 World Cup, CEO Says
The Spain/Portugal bid is “moderately confident” of winning the right to host the 2018 World Cup, estimating it may get 8 of 22 votes in the first round of voting, chief executive Miguel Angel Lopez said.
The bid is competing with England, Russia and a joint Netherlands/Belgium candidature in the Dec. 2 vote in Zurich by the executive committee of world soccer ruling body FIFA. The contest will be close, Lopez said.
“It won’t be a big win in our favor or a big loss against us,” Lopez said in an interview.
The Spain/Portugal bid is third-favorite to get the 2018 event at 7-2 with bookmaker William Hill Plc behind Russia and England at 10-11 and 6-4, respectively. The Netherlands/Belgium bid is the 50-1 outsider. A success $1 bet on Spain/Portugal would yield $3.50 plus the original stake.
An investigation into allegations of vote exchanging by Spain/Portugal and Qatar, one of five countries bidding for the 2022 World Cup, was dropped by FIFA on Nov. 18. The 2022 host will also be decided on Dec. 2.
FIFA Security Advisor Chris Eaton sent an e-mail to the Iberian bid in October saying he may need assistance with the investigation, only to say a week later in another e-mail it wasn’t necessary, according to Lopez.
“If there was something, they would have done more,” Lopez said.
FIFA “did what was necessary” with its investigation into collusion, Claudio Sulser, chairman of FIFA’s ethics committee, told a Nov. 18 news conference, adding those involved were asked to submit written statements.
“We looked at the situation, we evaluated the difficulty of reaching a conclusion and procedural aspects confirmed our position,” Sulser told reporters.
In a separate ruling last week, FIFA suspended two executive committees, Tahiti’s Reynald Temarii and Nigeria’s Amos Adamu after London’s Sunday Times newspaper said the pair would trade cash for their vote.
Spain/Portugal is counting on the votes of three South American executives because Latin America “is our natural territory,” although it doesn’t expect support from three Europeans including Michel Platini, president of European ruling body UEFA, Lopez said.
“They haven’t given us any indication they will” vote for us, Lopez said. The bid is more optimistic about support from four Asian executives, he added.
If none of the bids secures an absolute majority in the first round of voting, the bidder with the least backing will drop out in subsequent rounds, according to FIFA rules.
Spain, which won its first World Cup in South Africa in July, hosted the 1982 edition of the tournament. Portugal hasn’t organized the event before.
The Iberian bid is asking Real Madrid to let Cristiano Ronaldo and Iker Casillas, the captains of Portugal and Spain, to attend the vote, Lopez said, adding the club’s Portuguese coach Jose Mourinho might also attend.
Even if they go to Zurich it’s probably be too late to influence the vote, Lopez said.
“All the fish is sold,” Lopez said.
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