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Dempsey Retires Early

Oceana soccer head Charlie Dempsey, 79, has bowed to pressure from colleagues and will retire early from his position.

Mr Dempsey announced his early departure, effective from October 1, after attending a closed meeting at the Oceania world cup conference in Auckland on Sunday.

The resignation came three days after Mr Dempsey’s controversial decision to abstain from the final vote to pick the hosts of the 2006 soccer world cup at a FIFA conference in Zurich. The no-vote meant finalists, South Africa, narrowly lost to European rivals, Germany.

Mr Dempsey’s abstention went against the wishes of sporting body Soccer New Zealand, which had instructed him, as the Oceania’s FIFA representative, to vote for South Africa in the event of a South Africa - Germany final.

The move also angered the New Zealand Government, which had promised South African officials New Zealand’s support in the bid to hold the 2006 matches. Other delegates at FIFA, angry at his unilateral decision, have also called for his resignation.

While the Oceania World Cup meeting was closed to the media, it is understood Mr Dempsey explained to the officials he chose not to vote in protest at the “intolerable pressure” put upon him by the bidding countries in the hours leading up to the final poll.

Mr Dempsey had earlier told international media that he had received death threats aimed at him and his family from anonymous sources telling him which way to vote.

While Oceania delegates did not oppose Mr Dempsey’s resignation, afterwards many said they were sad to see Mr Dempsey leave.

Mr Dempsey’s decision to quit comes after 32 years of service to New Zealand soccer, and 16 years with world body FIFA.

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