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SOUTH AMERICAN FOOTBALL BODY ACCUSES FIFA OF DISCRIMINATORY CONCLUSIONS

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BY NANCY GILLEN

The South American Soccer Confederation (CONMEBOL) and the Colombian Football Federation (CFC) have accused FIFA of “discriminatory conclusions” in its evaluation report of Colombia’s bid to host the 2023 Women’s World Cup.

CONMEBOL President Alejandro Domínguez and CFC President Ramón Jesurún wrote a joint letter to the FIFA Council after Colombia received the lowest rating of the three contenders bidding to host the tournament. 

Australia and New Zealand’s joint bid received an average of 4.1 out of five, with Japan tallying 3.9 and Colombia 2.8.

The evaluation report covered areas including stadia, team facilities, accommodation, transport, security, event timing and commercial factors, with Colombia told it would need “a significant amount of investment and support from both local stakeholders and FIFA” to elevate its bid to the level of the other two.

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The letter from Domínguez and Jesurún took issue with FIFA’s criticism of the medical services, doping and commercial aspects of the bid, claiming “erroneous and discriminatory conclusions” had been made. 

They were also offended by references to terrorism in the report.  

FIFA’s evaluation report said there had been a “significant reduction in domestic terrorism” in Colombia, but that “concerns remain in terms of the potential impact of crime on tournament stakeholders”.

“Colombia today lives in a time of stability and social peace, fruits of the efforts and maturity of its people,” Domínguez and Jesurún said, as reported by Reuters

“It denotes ignorance in relation to Colombia’s situation, and a lack of interest in carrying out, at least, minimal research of the situation in which this country finds itself currently.”

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It is not the first time CONMEBOL has accused FIFA of discrimination this year, with Domínguez accusing the governing body of a “clear abuse of power” when the decision was taken to hold a FIFA Council meeting by video conference, citing the coronavirus crisis.

The meeting was originally scheduled to take place in Asunción in Paraguay on March 20.

Criticism also came in May after FIFA decided to temporarily allow teams to make five substitutes, with Domínguez claiming that CONMEBOL had not been consulted on the move. 

Colombia’s bid for the 2023 Women’s World Cup will now go forward to the FIFA Council, which is due to select the winner at an online meeting on Thursday (June 25).

FIFA were left with a three-horse race for their flagship women’s tournament after Brazil withdrew its bid at the start of June, citing financial concerns related to the COVID-19 pandemic. 

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Kunle Solaja is the author of landmark books on sports and journalism as well as being a multiple award-winning journalist and editor of long standing. He is easily Nigeria’s foremost soccer diarist and Africa's most capped FIFA World Cup journalist, having attended all FIFA World Cup finals from Italia ’90 to Qatar 2022. He was honoured at the Qatar 2022 World Cup by FIFA and AIPS.

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