Dempsey Confirms He was Threatened over 2006 World Cup Votes

Published July 8th, 2000 - 02:00 GMT

The man at the center of the 2006 World Cup furore, New Zealander Charlie Dempsey, arrived home Saturday to confirm he had been threatened over a vote to decide who should host the competition. 

Dempsey caused outrage when he abstained on a crucial vote in Zurich on who should host the cup, allowing Germany to beat favorites South Africa. 

FIFA's communications director Keith Cooper later said Dempsey had received death threats, although FIFA itself later retracted the claim. 

"I was threatened, but I didn't say I was threatened with my life," Dempsey told a reporter from the New Zealand Press Association. 

"I just got phone calls. It was a terrible situation. I had never experienced pressure like I have now." 

He added: "I realize it had international repercussions but I took the right move and I will explain it to my executive tomorrow. 

"I got very strong advice this was the best thing to do. It didn't matter what way I had voted, I was a loser. There was no way I was going to win. I was in a no-win situation." 

The last four days, particularly the last 24 hours, had been difficult, he said. 

Dempsey planned to talk to the Oceania Football Confederation executive Sunday ahead of a press conference on Monday when he said he would publicly explain his decision to abstain. 

His abstention in the final round of voting -- disobeying orders to back South Africa from his own confederation and the New Zealand government -- gave Germany a one-point victory, with the final vote 12-11. 

Had the vote tied at 12-12, FIFA president Sepp Blatter would have been left with the casting vote, which he would have given to South Africa, his favored candidate. 

Dempsey agreed that had he voted for South Africa and tied the vote, FIFA president Sepp Blatter "probably" would have used his casting vote as chairman to swing the outcome in South Africa's favor. 

But he refused to expand on the "strong advice" or why he decided not to vote. 

"I will be telling my executive all about it. I don't want to get into any detail at all. My executive will understand when I tell them." 

He felt "at the time I had made the right decision ... people will be saying 'No, I didn't.' But I made the decision and I didn't make it on my own." 

He would not say who else was involved, again saying he would tell his executive "when the time comes." 

In view of the repercussions, Dempsey said the matter could probably have been "handled differently." 

"If there hadn't been any of the nonsense that was going on ... look I don't want to go into any more detail, my executive ..." Dempsey then refused to continue the conversation. 

"Monday I will tell everything," he said. 

Dempsey eluded media at Auckland International Airport on his return, but talked to NZPA from his home soon after he arrived. 

FIFA Friday evening released a statement saying that reports of deaths threats -- including Cooper's remarks -- were inaccurate. 

"FIFA stresses that these and other such reports, including a comment by its own director of communications, were inaccurate," said the statement. 

"In fact Mr. Dempsey had told the committee before the voting had begun that he had come under 'extreme pressure' as a result of which he had been legally advised to abstain after the first round of voting. He had not however made references to death threats." 

Cooper, who attended the meeting, earlier told BBC Radio: "Charlie referred at the beginning of the meeting to legal advice which he had taken because of the difficult personal situation he found himself in and I would absolutely subscribe to the description of intolerable unbearable personal pressure." 

Asked to detail the manner of the pressure Dempsey was under, Cooper said: "If you think of your own personal safety and that of the people who are close and dear to you." 

When asked if Cooper meant death threats, he replied: "If you want to interpret it that way I would not disagree with it," - (AFP) 




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