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Scoop Opinion: Dempsey Should Have Been Sacked

Charlie Dempsey should have been sacked as Oceania soccer president immediately, after his decision to abstain from the recent voting to decide the 2006 World Cup hosts. Scoop Sport's Simon Kay writes.

Dempsey ignored the calls of his confederation's own delegates to support South Africa's bid after England was eliminated and his abstention effectively handed the World Cup to Germany.

And that decision will prove costly for soccer in the South Pacific. Oceania is easily the weakest of FIFA's six confederations, and if Oceania wants to change the status quo in any area, the support of other confederations is needed.

Oceania should consistently support the other marginalised confederations, such as Africa.

Instead, Dempsey chose to back far and away the most powerful confederation- the Europeans.

Arguably the most pressing ongoing concern for Oceania soccer is attempting to gain an automatic qualifying spot at the World Cup.

During the last four World Cup qualifying campaigns, the Oceania winner has been forced to play representatives from Europe, South America, North America and Asia in an attempt to make the finals. No Oceania team has played at the World Cup finals since New Zealand in 1982.

If this is to change, Oceania would need African support. European backing is not likely to be forthcoming because any direct Oceania World Cup entry would probably be at the expense of a UEFA nation.

Would some of the world's leading soccer administrators be petty enough to hold a grudge against Oceania?

Well, consider this: Part of the reason attributed to Asia's support of the German World Cup bid was payback for the refusal of FIFA president Sepp Blatter - who wanted South Africa to host the 2006 World Cup - to grant Asia an additional qualifying spot for the 2002 World Cup.

New Zealand had been encouraged to bid for an Under-20 World Cup, after the success of last year's Under-17 World Cup. Expect any application to now be stymied.

Blatter is an advocate for the World Cup to be rotated through the confederations - which would mean the world's largest single-sport tournament would one day come to Australia.

Instead, Europe will host a second World Cup within eight years. Africa will have to wait at least another four years to stage the World Cup for the very first time.

And that soccer hotbed, South America, who last hosted the tournament in 1978, have effectively also been fobbed off and will almost certainly not stage another World Cup until at least 2014.

There is no question Dempsey has done much good for New Zealand and Oceania soccer, most notably achieving full confederation status for Oceania. But at 79-years-old, his time is up.

It's unfortunate that Dempsey's final major decision (or lack of one) should undo some of that good work and be such a setback for Oceania soccer.

© Scoop Media

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