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World Cup Soccer Bid 2006 - Dempsey Allegations

Charlie Dempsey, the Kiwi responsible for South Africa losing it’s bid to hold the 2006 soccer world cup final, was allegedly offered a gift by German interests in return for the guarantee of his vote, the Irish Times Newspaper reports.

The newspaper reported the allegations of gift giving on Thursday evening (Friday morning NZ time) which it said first surfaced on British Television’s Channel 4 News.

A FIFA source told the channel Mr Dempsey admitted he had received a letter from the secretary of the German bid team, offering a gift in return for the guarantee of his vote.

Mr Dempsey was one of between five and 10 other delegates who had admitted receiving letters from German interests, the channel said. It has not been confirmed whether any of the delegates accepted the gift.

Mr Dempsey was the sole abstainer in the final round of bidding for the rights to hold the 2006 world-cup finals. His abstention meant final contender South Africa lost by one vote to European rivals Germany.

The move was criticised by many on both sides of the bid, including his fellow delegates and the New Zealand Government. Soccer New Zealand had advised Dempsey, their representative, to vote for South Africa - the New Zealand Government's official choice of the hosts for the games.

Soccer NZ chief executive Bill McGowan says while he is shocked at Mr Dempsey’s decision to abstain, he believes Mr Dempsey must have had his reasons for changing tack.

The New Zealand Herald reports correspondents in South Africa saying there are suggestions Mr Dempsey abstained in protest over accusations leveled at him.

Meanwhile, an Irish Times article quotes a fellow FIFA delegate speaking in defence of Mr Dempsey. English bid supporter, Peter Hill said Mr Dempsey abstained from voting because of the “unsustainable pressure” from the other bidders - presumably including Germany and South Africa.

Mr Hill, said the pressure exerted on the 79-year-old began from five o'clock yesterday morning. Mr. Dempsey felt it so much that he feared his personal integrity would be compromised, and that the vote would not be a free and fair ballot, Mr Hill said.

Whatever the reason for Mr Dempsey’s action, all is likely to become clear at Sunday’s World Cup Oceania meeting in Auckland, when Mr Dempsey will meet with New Zealand soccer executives to explain his reasoning.

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