FIFA WC bids can forget sleep in frenetic final hours

London: A lot of personal charm, a little star quality and the ability to get by on absolutely no sleep are the key qualities bid teams must show in the frantic final days of campaigning for the right to stage the World Cup.

That is the view of Danny Jordaan, the South African administrator who almost single-handedly ran two bid campaigns, tasting the bitterness of defeat in the race for 2006 before coming back to win hosting rights for this year`s World Cup.

"Forget about any sleep," Jordaan told Reuters in a telephone interview from Zurich, where the nine bid teams are gathered ahead of the vote for the 2018 and 2022 World Cups on Thursday.

"The bid teams are going to need to keep going right through in the final night to make sure they get their case across. We went from one meeting to the next trying to persuade the FIFA members of the merits of our case and to address their fears and concerns."

For Jordaan, more important than the official presentations are the fireside chats with members of the all-powerful FIFA executive committee, the men who will decide on the destination of the two tournaments.

A little star quality also goes a long way, he said, remembering the role played by former South African president Nelson Mandela in helping the country to win the right to host the 2010 World Cup.

"We had the Mandela factor," Jordaan said. "There is no doubt he had an huge impact."

"In the end, a lot of it comes down to the human factor, to the relationships that already exist. There is a strong emotive pull in places."

Second Choices

The voters in Zurich will pick from four bids for the 2018 tournament -- England, Russia, Spain/Portugal and Netherlands/Belgium -- and five for 2022 -- United States, Japan, South Korea, Qatar and Australia.

Jordaan said picking up votes after the first round, once rivals had been eliminated, would be crucial.

"It`s clear this will be a difficult one to call and it is also clear there are not going to be any winners after the first round of voting," he said.

"Successful bids are going to need to pick up other country`s votes as they fall out of the race and in order to do that you have to have your strategy in place.”

"The last hours are vital. There is no sleeping. The rumour mill is always very active and there can always be some persuading to do, even at the last moment."

Jordaan served as a FIFA inspector for the nine current bids and will witness the decision in Zurich. He did not want to be drawn on predicting winners for the 2018 and 2022 campaigns.

"I`ve been a referee in all of this so I can`t say. But even if I wanted to, I couldn`t. It`s going to be really tough... Very, very interesting."

Bureau Report

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