(WFI) Korea has unveiled a $777 million fund as part of its bid to host the 2022 World Cup.
It will be distributed over an 11-year period leading up to the finals and be funded by Korean businesses and philanthropy. The bid has also pledged to reinvest any profits it makes from a World Cup into football development.
“Korea’s rapid growth over the years was made possible in large part by the massive developmental assistance it received from the international community,” Korea 2022 bid chairman Han Sung-joo told reporters at the Leaders in Football conference in London on Thursday.
“The nation now seeks to give back by strengthening its role in the global community.
“We believe that one of the best ways for Korea to give back is through football development throughout the world. We are establishing a global football fund to assist less developed and developing FIFA member associations and confederations.”
The announcement seemed to be lost in the wake of Chung Mong-joon’s explosive keynote address, but may have greater lasting significance.
On a year-by-year basis, the $70million that will be distributed annually over the period is double the current funding arrangements for FIFA’s Goal projects.
Perhaps most significantly in the context of the 2022 bid race, CONCACAF will be the biggest beneficiary, with $170 million allocated to it over the 11-year period.
Asked whether recent political developments in North Korea – which have seen a lessening of tensions over the past few months – made the prospect of some involvement for the North more plausible, Han told INSIDER that he would not be drawn on making predictions about reunification.
“Once I predicted a certain date for Korean reunification and I was wrong,” he said.
“I’m not there to predict another date at this point. As we see in the case of Germany, things can come without anybody expecting them to happen.”
D’Hooge: Bidders should take nothing for granted
Belgium’s FIFA Ex-co member Michel D’Hooge said that his own country, which is jointly bidding for the 2018 finals with Holland, should at the moment take nothing for granted when voting takes place on Dec. 2.
“My first choice for 2018? – I have not yet read the report of the inspection group,” said D’Hooge, whose career has taken him from being the FC Bruges team doctor to head of the Belgian FA and the FIFA executive.
“I think that this is important. If it has no importance we should not spend so much money sending all these people around the world. Let me first read the report of the inspection group and I will give you my answer on Dec. 2.”
Pressed on the fact that he should vote for Holland-Belgium, D’Hooge replied: “That’s not certainly impossible.”
He added: “I have learned in life to make decisions only when you are completely informed about everything, and I don’t feel today that I am completely informed.
“I have received the promotional materials and visits from everybody, and I respect that very much.
“Permit me to say, what we saw yesterday [Wednesday] where we had all the candidates talking about their cases, that this is an example of great sports fair play.
“There will be only two winners from nine candidates. Will we have seven losers? I don’t get that impression.”
Spain’s international man of mystery speaks out
FIFA vice-president Angel Maria Villar, who is co-chairing the Iberian joint bid, proved the most engaging, charming and entertaining draw of the conference, with his extravagant gestures and funny asides.
Asked about an incident from 1974 – during his playing days – when he landed a left hook on the jaw of Barcelona’s Johan Cruyff, the current head of the FIFA referees committee laughed, and replied in broken English: “Very, very, very correct.”
He also claimed – perhaps bearing in mind that the conference was being held on English soil – that England played “extremely well” at this summer’s World Cup, prompting guffaws from the audience.
“What actually happened was that
others beat you because they played better, but you played extremely well!”he said, somewhat unconvincingly.
But asked by INSIDER about the Spain-Portugal bid, and whether it owed world football a duty to be more transparent in its dealings, complaints we detailed last week, his smile dropped.
“We are very transparent and maybe there are some different understandings of that. But I believe we are certainly very transparent,” he protested, via an interpreter.
“We certainly want to communicate to the ex-co members and to the football world that we are very serious about our bid and that we will do everything in our hands to serve the football community with our bid.”
Wenger gets caught short and cornered
For the journalists covering the event, there was scarcely a chance to venture onto the exhibition hall floor, where, amongst others, Pep Guardiola, Roman Abramovich, Raymond Domenech and England’s Rugby World Cup winning captain Martin Johnson rubbed shoulders. You could also pose with the World Cup trophy.
INSIDER did get a chance to see poor Arsene Wenger though. He inadvertently ended up in the press room, while looking for the bathroom. Cornered by a colleague and unimpeded by his usual press attaché he was the model of courtesy, chatting away for ten minutes about dangerous tackling in football.
By INSIDER’s James Corbett
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