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Wednesday, June 15, 2011

FIFA World Cup Bidding Inspection Chief Gets Soccerex Role

Qatar 2022 bid chairman Sheikh Mohammed bin Khalifa Al Thani with Harold Mayne-Nicholls on FIFA's inspection visit to the Gulf state last September (Getty)
(WFI) Harold Mayne-Nicholls, the Chilean who headed FIFA's evaluation commission for the 2018 and 2022 World Cup bidding race, is named as a Latin American ambassador for Soccerex.

The former president of the Chilean FA, who has played an integral role in the growth and development of the game across the region, is now tasked with helping to grow the Soccerex brand across the Central and South American continent.

Soccerex’s objective across the region is to provide rights holders and businesses with a unique opportunity to expand their knowledge and grow their business through the Soccerex Global Convention, which takes place in Rio de Janeiro from Nov. 26-30. It follows the staging of last year's inaugural event in the city.

“The upcoming Soccerex Global Convention will be of fantastic benefit to the region in the build-up to the World Cup," the 49-year-old said.

"Soccerex will bring the world’s business leaders together and it is important that Latin America’s key business contacts are here to meet them."

Last summer, Mayne-Nicholls led FIFA’s technical team for a two-month inspection tour of the nine bidding nations for the 2018 and 2022 World Cup.

His team compiled 40-page evaluation reports on each bidder, meant as a guide for FIFA Ex-Co members.

Despite citing risks with the bids from Russia and Qatar, the two countries were chosen as hosts on Dec. 2.

During Mayne-Nicholls' monitoring of the bid campaign, the race for hosting rights descended into controversy with two FIFA Ex-Co members, Reynald Temarii of Tahiti and Amos Adamu of Nigeria, banned following an ethics investigation into the cash-for-votes scandal triggered by a Sunday Times expose.

FIFA's choice of Russia and Qatar has come under intense scrutiny since the bidding war finished.

In May, former England 2018 World Cup bid chairman accused four FIFA Ex-Co members of "improper and unethical behaviour" in demanding inducements in exchange for their votes during the process, claims they denied.

And in recent weeks, Qatar 2022 World Cup organisers have been forced to dismiss claims made by a whistleblower that African football chief Issa Hayatou and Jacques Anouma were paid $1.5 million bribes in exchange for their votes for the Gulf state. Both men denied the allegations.

The oil-rich nation's credibility was again in the spotlight two weeks ago when suspended FIFA Ex-Co member Jack Warner leaked an email exchange between him and FIFA secretary general Jerome Valcke in which the Frenchman suggested that Qatar had "bought" the 2022 World Cup. Valcke later tried to dig attempted to explain that what he meant was that Qatar had used its budget to heavily promote their bid and lobby for support.

Mayne-Nicholls joins a growing roster of leading South American football figures aiding the development of Soccerex.

Last year's global convention attracted honorary FIFA president João Havelange, Brazil 2014 World Cup organising committee chief Ricardo Teixeira as well as football legends including Carlos Alberto Torres, Ricky Villa, Ossie Ardiles, Elías Figueroa, Zico, Denílson, Jorginho, Cafu and Romario.

Leading clubs from across the continent such as Boca Juniors, Chivas, Once Caldas, Racing Club, Flamengo and Santos FC have all participated in recent editions.

The Soccerex Global Convention 2011 includes a conference and exhibition and two-day Football Festival in the host city for the 2014 World Cup final and 2016 Olympic Games. 

By INSIDER editor Mark Bisson

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