By Donald Duff
in Nassau, Bahamas
The venue was the Conference Room of the Atlantis Hotel, with a total of 7000 rooms, the biggest and most unique hotel in the Caribbean.
The event was the announcement of the 12 host cities for the Federation Internationale de Football Association (FIFA) showpiece – the 2014 World Cup tournament scheduled for neighbouring Brazil.
The result, following extensive analysis between the Local Organising Committees and FIFA was the announcement by FIFA President Sepp Blatter yesterday of Bele Horizonte, Brasilia, Cuiaba, Curitaba, Fortaleza, Manaus, Natal, Poro Alegre, Recife, Rio de Janeiro, Salvador and Sao Paulo as the cities to host matches for the World Cup competition in Brazil in 2014.
Flanked by FIFA Executive Member Ricardo Terra Teixeira on his right and General Secretary Jerome Valcke, Blatter declared, “It is a great pleasure today to be in direct contact with the continent of football. And when I say continent of football I don’t only mean South America but I also mean Brazil.”
Teixeira, current President of the Brazilian Football Confederation too toasted the South American country declaring: “Today is a historic day for Brazil.”
He added, “There are no winning and losing cities here in Brazil; we are all taking part in the World Cup and we can all be proud.”
But probably the proudest person at the press conference was Blatter’s predecessor, Joao Havelange.
Sitting in the front row of the conference and later elevated to the head table following Teixeira’s departure, Havelenge in an invited comment told Stabroek Sport that the evolution of the sport has finally resulted in the South American country considered the most successful country in the history of the competition, being given a chance to stage the prestigious tournament.
Brazil is the only country to have played in each of the 18 tournaments staged so far by FIFA and they have won the World Cup competition on five occasions.
General Secretary Valcke also briefed the media on a number of decisions arrived at by the Executive Committee following discussions on a wide number of issues.
The first was an announcement of an agreement by the four British associations that Great Britain will be represented in the men’s and women’s by teams consisting exclusively of English players at the 2012 Olympic football tournaments.
It was also announced that the Executive Committee received correspondence from the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) on May 29 “confirming that the 2009 FIFA Anti-doping regulations comply with the World Anti-Doping Code in all respects save article 54, which concerns a player’s return to training following suspension and would require further discussion.”
Valcke also announced that a team comprising himself, Blatter, Vice President and CAF President Issa Hayatou, Jack Warner and FIFA Executive Committee Member Dr Amos Adamu would meet Nigerian Vice President Dr Jonathan Goodluck in Lagos on June 11, to “request binding government guarantees that Nigeria will fulfil all requirements for hosting the FIFA U-17 World Cup competition in 2009.”
Valcke said should the guarantees not be issued, then FIFA would withdraw the organisation of the tournament from Nigeria and find an alternative host country.
Valcke also announced the lifting of the suspension by the FIFA Executive Committee on the Ethiopian Football Federation on the condition that the committee which has been installed would “organise and chair an elective general assembly by the end of July 2009.”
They also agreed to extend “the conditional lifting of the suspension on the Kuwait Football Association in order to allow Kuwait’s parliament to ratify amendments to national sports legislation to comply with the requirements of FIFA and other international sports federations.”