2022 World Cup bidders prepare to play last cards

Zurich: The five countries bidding to host the 2022 World Cup will play their final cards on Wednesday as the battle to host sport`s biggest event reaches its climax.

Australia, South Korea, Qatar United States and Japan will each have 30 minutes to make their final presentations to FIFA`s executive committee, who will vote for the winners on Thursday when they also choose the hosts for the 2018 World Cup.

FIFA`s executive committee, which usually has 24 members, has been reduced to 22 after Reynald Temarii of Tahiti and Amos Adamu of Nigeria were suspended this month. This followed allegations made by the Sunday Times that they had offered to sell their votes to undercover newspaper reporters.

The Oceania Football Confederation (OFC) was hoping to replace Temarii with acting president David Chung of Papua-New Guinea, but this can only happen once the Tahitian has renounced his right to appeal to resigned.

However, Temarii, banned for one year for breaking FIFA rules on general ethics and loyalty, announced through his lawyer late on Tuesday that he did not intend to quit his post as head of the OFC.

The presentations will be the culmination of intense lobbying by the five bids of the 22 members, including FIFA president Sepp Blatter.

"It does make an impression," said Australia bid leader Frank Lowy.

"He doesn`t just sit and there and listens, he asks questions, he wants to be informed.

"He wants to be sure the award will be given to the best contender. It`s a very polite discussion but you have to watch for the signs."

There are no clear favourites in the race in which only Australia and Qatar have not hosted the tournament before.

The United States are seen as a safe bet and topped the list of revenue potential in a survey by management consultants McKinsey.

Australia, inspired by the success of Germany in 2006 when the fan fests and party atmosphere transformed the country`s image, are offering a fun-packed experience for visitors, plus vast experience in organising major events.

Qatar are trying to convince FIFA that air-conditioned stadiums using green technology will enable them to stage the tournament despite summer temperatures of over 50 Celsius.

Japan`s bid has a touch of science fiction with plans for holographic broadcasts of matches.

Dynamic South Korea, who co-hosted 2002 with the Japanese, is offering a spicy alternative and the possibility of sharing matches with reclusive neighbour North Korea.

Bureau Report

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