Sport: FIFA retracts claim delegate received death threats

Friday 07 July 2000 17.04

Soccer's world governing body, FIFA, has retracted its claim that its delegate from Oceania, New Zealand's Charles Dempsey, had received death threats ahead of the decision to award the 2006 World Cup to Germany. In a statement issued in Zurich, FIFA said that the comments made earlier today by its Communications Director were inaccurate. Mr Dempsey had said that he was under extreme pressure before the vote, and had been legally advised to abstain. That abstention resulted in Germany's one vote victory over South Africa.

FIFA is to hold an internal inquiry into the allegations of corruption surrounding the awarding. The South African committee that made an unsuccessful bid to host the tournament has said that it has also begun an investigation. Both inquiries are likely to focus on the abstention of the New Zealand delegate in the vote. Mr Dempsey insisted that he had no regrets over his decision. He faces a meeting of his own governing body when he returns to New Zealand this weekend.

The Prime Minister of New Zealand Helen Clarke has said that she is extremely disappointed by Mr Dempsey's failure to support South Africa's bid. A German satirical magazine has claimed that it sent hoax faxes to FIFA delegates urging them to vote for Germany to host the 2006 World Cup in return for a gift. The magazine, Titanic, claimed that Mr Dempsey was one of the recipients.