SP seeks parliamentary enquiry into negotiations with FIFA over World Cup bid

29 November 2010

SP seeks parliamentary enquiry into negotiations with FIFA over World Cup bid

SP Member of Parliament and spokeswoman on sport Renske Leijten wants to see a parliamentary enquiry into the way in which the Netherlands’ World Cup bid came about. Her demand comes in the wake of revelations that the Ministry of Finance has known for at least a year that hosting the tournament would not prove profitable, while agreements to waive taxes are unlawful. ‘With a great deal of propaganda we are told that a World Cup will always lead to profits for the taxpayer and that the tax waivers demanded by FIFA would present no problem from a legal point of view. Now that it turns out that the ministry had other information on this, parliament must conduct its own enquiry into the negotiations which have taken place with FIFA’.

Renske LeijtenOn behalf of the government, Dutch national football association the KNVB has been negotiating with FIFA to organise World Cup football in 2018. The World Cup bid was delivered to FIFA in May and includes numerous agreements regarding the tournament’s organisation. ‘So, for example, the Dutch government must give guarantees in relation to the interests of the sponsors, to a tax waiver for FIFA, and to the organisation of public order,’ says Leijten. ‘These guarantees were carefully prepared and there was considerable negotiation over them. It’s important that Parliament looks into how it can be that FIFA’s interests came before proper information about the costs and why things were agreed which are unlawful.’

Just before the signing of the government’s guarantees for the World Cup bid, Parliament requested a debate on the matter. Ab Klink, who was then sports minister, made the guarantees public. They contain details of the privileges which FIFA is demanding in the run-up to the tournament, as well as during and after the organisation of the World Cup, which would be shared between the Netherlands and Belgium. If a group of Dutch women could end up in a South African prison cell because they went into a stadium wearing mini-skirts bearing the name of a brand of beer which was not among the official sponsors, as happened last summer, it’s obvious that the Netherlands and Belgium will have given FIFA far-reaching guarantees.

‘We could organise a World Cup, I’m convinced of that. But you’ve got to be honest about the costs, certainly at a time when the government is imposing deep spending cuts. What’s really awful are the negotiated guarantees, made to a commercial organisation like FIFA, and the lack of openness over this. It’s no more than logical that Parliament should want to get to the bottom of this for itself.”

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