Chuck Blazer says rotation better

Updated: December 3, 2010, 5:17 PM ET
Associated Press

NEW YORK -- The American member of FIFA's executive committee says politics came into play in the votes to have Russia and Qatar host the World Cup and that soccer's governing body must reconsider how it decides future tournament sites.

Chuck Blazer said that because FIFA is unlikely to choose the 2026 host for eight years, it should consider changes well before it is time to vote again.

A supporter of the failed U.S. bid for 2022, Blazer said he thinks the North and Central American and Caribbean confederation was the biggest loser in the decision to end FIFA's policy of rotating World Cup hosts among the continents.

"The shame of all of it is under the rotation system, clearly '18 would have been ours, and we gave way to lifting that system in order to provide Europe with a good opportunity and FIFA to have another European World Cup in between," he said Friday from Zurich in a telephone interview with The Associated Press.

FIFA adopted a continental rotation system in August 2000, three weeks after Germany defeated South Africa 12-11 in the vote for the 2006 World Cup host. It was scrapped in October 2007 over CONCACAF's objection, a day before Brazil was unanimously elected the 2014 host. Brazil was the only bidder.

CONCACAF has not hosted a World Cup since the 1994 tournament, which was in the United States.

"I've got to think in the end that having moved away from what had been agreed to as the rotation, that we ended up with the short end of that stick as a confederation," said Blazer, the No. 2 official in CONCACAF.

With eight of the 24 executive committee votes, Europe wound up as the only continent competing for 2018, as others did the math months in advance and withdrew. Russia won Thursday's balloting over England, Spain-Portugal and Netherlands-Belgium.

England received just two votes and was knocked out on the first round.

"I think they had a great bid. They certainly have great facilities. But for me, going into the day, it was clear to me they didn't have the votes to win," Blazer said.

Qatar won 2022, beating the United States 14-8 in the final round after Australia, Japan and South Korea were eliminated.

Blazer, while saying Qatar won the vote fairly, said he believes jockeying for support to succeed the 74-year-old Sepp Blatter, who replaced Joao Havelange as president in 1998, was a factor. Blatter is running for a fourth term and has said he is braced for a candidate from Asia to challenge him in the vote at the May 31-June 1 FIFA Congress.

Qatar's Mohamed Bin Hammam is president of the Asian Football Confederation, which would have nearly half of the votes needed to elect a president if it votes as a bloc.

"I don't think these are decisions anymore made purely on what's the best place to host it or who's best capable of doing the best job," Blazer said. "If you consider that there are potential candidates that are looking to align support, Asia is certainly a major piece of the puzzle as we are going forward."

The entire FIFA Congress often picked World Cup hosts -- many times there was only one viable candidate -- through 1966, when the venues for 1974, 1978 and 1982 were decided. Voting then switched to the smaller executive committee, which in its first contested election selected Mexico in 1983 for the 1986 tournament as the replacement for Colombia, which withdrew.

Blazer believes the system should be re-examined.

"In the beginning of this process, I thought the executive committee was the right body to make the decision because ... FIFA depends on the World Cup for all of its revenues," he said. "But in the end, because of the combination of decisions which are taken sometimes on the basis of political and other considerations, I think we may have to look at a different way of doing things in the future."

Members of England's failed bid agreed.

England and the United States were considered the best prospects for technically successful and profitable tournaments, yet those evaluations appeared to matter little in the voting. FIFA instead opted for the grand design projects of Russia and Qatar, sending the World Cup to Eastern Europe and the Middle East for the first time.

The U.S. has not said whether it will bid for 2026.

Copyright 2010 by The Associated Press