KEIR RADNEDGE in LONDON: FIFA’s executive committee may not have read Harold Mayne-Nicholls’s World Cup bid analysis before they voted in December 2010 . . . but he read their minds.
The then president of the Chilean federation has told me that he knew, “three days before the vote,” that Qatar would win the right to host the 2022 World Cup.
Coincidentally one of the rivals it defeated was the United States – and Mayne-Nicholls and USSF president Sunil Gulati will find themselves on the same panel today at the annual Leaders In Football conference here at Stamford Bridge.
Mayne-Nicholls – as first revealed in an exclusive interview in World Soccer magazine and on this website last spring – has his own ideas about how the wrangle over the timing of the 2022 finals may be resolved.
But he said that, well before the controversial vote, he could see trouble ahead.
Mayne-Nicholls said: “Three days before the decision, I already was certain that Qatar would win the vote. Too many people were talking up Qatar but that is not to say there was anything wrong with the way they won. I never heard anything.
“Rumours have been going on since the election but there is not a single piece of evidence, no one has been able to show us this is what happened. What I can say to myself, nobody, not Qatar or anybody, offered me anything. Nobody interfered, we were allowed to do our jobs.”
In his evaluation report he had written: “The fact that the competition is planned in June-July, the two hottest months of the year in this region, has to be considered as a potential health risk for players, officials, the Fifa family and spectators, and requires precautions to be taken.”
Despite this, Qatar won on the fourth round of voting. Australia fell in the first round, followed by Japan and South Korea and finally a highly-confident and shocked US.
Mayne-Nicholls added: “We wrote that it is very risky to play the World Cup in June-July for the health of the players.
We had no evidence that something would happen, but we said that even with the cooling system that they promised it would be very risky.
“I cannot imagine top athletes running 90 minutes even with the cooling system, because at certain times of day they will feel this climate.”
The only possible answer is for evening and late-night kick-off times.
Mayne-Nicholls added: “Operational considerations are one thing, but we need more for the World Cup. We need it to be a party for the world.”
He thought FIFA should have been quicker in tackling practical concerns about the summer temperatures in June but now that it had decided to put off a decision until as late as 2015, it should use the time to conduct proper scientific tests including on the air-cooling research.
Mayne-Nicholls was also surprised at the sudden rush this summer by FIFA president Sepp Blatter to move the finals from the traditional summer date.
In future the executive committee will draw up a shortlist of bidders and the full FIFA Congress will vote on the host.
Nine of the 22 exco members who voted in December 2010 have been replaced, most in disgrace.
** A small group of protesters demanding more spending on health and education disrupted a visit by FIFA officials to the 2014 World Cup stadium under construction in Cuiaba on Tuesday.
Dozens of demonstrators, many of them striking teachers and postal workers, carried banners saying ‘FIFA Go Home’. Two of Brazil’s former World Cup winners, Ronaldo and Bebeto, both of whom are on the 2014 local organising committee, were also booed.