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S. Africa drops litigation threat over soccer

SHARE S. Africa drops litigation threat over soccer

ZURICH, Switzerland — Confident it will be awarded the 2010 World Cup, South Africa dropped plans to sue FIFA for giving Germany the 2006 tournament.

The South African Football Association prepared legal papers for the Zurich state high court but decided against filing them Friday after talks with African and international soccer officials.

"For the good of the game it is important for us to shelve the issue. . . . We accepted the advice," SAFA vice president Irvin Khoza said. "We are not disappointed, because we have been vindicated."

He said he has been assured South Africa will get the 2010 World Cup. FIFA's executive committee agreed Thursday to develop a system to rotate the tournament among the six continental confederations starting that year.

"In the corridors, everybody concurs that (the rotation) must start in Africa," Khoza said, conceding no formal decision has been made. "We think we have now to concentrate on 2010. I think we fancy our chances. . . . Clearly it's time."

Africa wouldn't necessarily get the first World Cup under a rotational system, FIFA president Sepp Blatter cautioned.

"There is no indication who or where we would start the rotation system," Blatter said. "We have not identified any specific national association or country."

Lennart Johansson, president of the Union of European Football Associations, said "Europe would support Africa as the first continent under the rotation."

South Africa had sought arbitration after FIFA's executive committee voted 12-11 on July 6 in favor of Germany, with New Zealand's Charles Dempsey abstaining, even though the Oceania Football Confederation instructed him to vote for South Africa. Blatter had said he would have broken a tie in South Africa's favor.

FIFA rejected the arbitration request Thursday, prompting South Africa to consider going to court.

Europe was awarded what would be its 10th World Cup; Africa has never been host to the event.