Egypt, Morocco mull World Cup miss

Arab countries bidding to host the 2010 football World Cup are reflecting on what could have been after losing out to South Africa.

    Mandela's influence helped South Africa's bid

    Moroccans were shocked by the

    failure of their country's fourth bid to host the championship

    .

    People were glued to their television sets at home, in cafes

    and even at hospital wards when Sepp Blatter, the president of

    world soccer's governing body FIFA, announced that South Africa

    had been awarded the first World Cup on African soil.

    "We are saddened because we strongly fancied our chances

    this time and we realise now that we probably had to be a bit

    more realistic," said Rashid Moumni, a 30-year old accountant.

    King Muhammad congratulated South African President Thabo

    Mbeki on the win, while Communication Minister Nabil Bin Abd Allah

    told reporters it was "a victory for the whole African

    continent. Morocco contributed greatly in this".

    "We are saddened because we strongly fancied our chances

    this time and we realise now that we probably had to be a bit

    more realistic"

    Rashid Moumni,
    Moroccan football fan

    While Moroccans acknowledged that weak infrastructure had

    eroded their chances, the majority believed they deserved to

    host the event since Morocco

    was the first African country to bid for the finals.

    Disappointment

    The kingdom missed out on the 1994 World Cup to the United

    States, to France in 1998 and in the last vote for the 2006

    finals which were awarded to Germany.

    Meanwhile, E

    gyptians were disappointed but

    not surprised their

     country lost out to South Africa

    , saying their bid was

    strong but the vote may have been driven by emotions.

    Officials and ordinary Egyptians joined together in wishing

    South Africa success in hosting the championships

    , saying a good competition would create more

    chances for Africa to host the tournament in the future.

    "Egypt had the best (presentation) file but politics and

    emotions won," said Ihab Shalaby, a member of Egypt's bid

    committee.

    He said the role of former president Nelson Mandela helped

    win the vote for South Africa, which controversially lost the

    race to host the 2006 finals to Germany by just one vote.

    Egyptians in Cairo added the weather in June, when the 2010 World Cup

    will probably start, may have weighed against the country

    .

    Footballing history

    "Egypt had the best (presentation) file but politics and

    emotions won"

    Ihab Shalaby,
    Egypt bid committee member

    Egypt was pinning its hopes on its political stability

    , the country's developed tourism

    infrastructure and its long history in the sport.

    The FIFA inspection team said Egypt had the potential to

    stage an "excellent" World Cup but suffered from a lack of stadiums.

    "I am very disappointed, not because South Africa will host

    the World Cup but because choosing it was not based on objective

    foundations," said Adly al-Qie, secretary general of the

    Egyptian Football Federation.

    "It seems that there were other issues, not sporting issues,

    that changed the direction towards South Africa," he said.

    Officials had hoped for an economic boost from hosting the

    tournament, saying it would have created at least half a million

    jobs in a country of 70 million where unemployment is high.

    SOURCE: Agencies


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