World expects Windies to fail in hosting CWC 2007 - Warner
… slams marketing of World Cup
From Isaiah Chappelle in Trinidad & Tobago
March 1, 2007
FIFA vice-president Austin ‘Jack’ Warner has warned that the world expects the West Indies to fail in hosting the 2007 Cricket World Cup, a situation compounded by small countries becoming venues.
Just days away from the world's third largest sporting event, Warner pointed out that many people in the Caribbean did not even know which matches were playing where and when, slamming the marketing of CWC in a presentation to regional sportswriters attending the two-day symposium entitled ‘Cricket, Lovely Cricket’ organised by the Sports Desk of the Trinidad Guardian ahead of the historic event.
Warner said he offered his services, having been involved in all FIFA World Cup finals staged since 1974, with only St Kitts/Nevis seeking his knowledge and expertise.
Speaking on the topic "What the world expects", Warner said the CWC was thrusted upon the West Indies, with no difficulty of bidding like the hosts of FIFA World Cup finals, for which the criteria filled a very thick book.
"We did not have to fight for it."
He said the region got immersed in politics and missed the big picture, with governments using the event to show off.
"It will not change government's attitude to sport."
Warner said that small nations were now spending millions of dollars on facilities, money that could have been used for the development of the people of those countries because the financial returns from the mega event might not even materialise since the expected attraction of tourists flooding the region was not assured.
The FIFA official declared that the restrictions were "ridiculous", disclosing that no shop close to FIFA World Cup venues were prevented from opening. He pointed out that the match venues were built specifically for cricket with floodlights.
"We're too poor not to have multi-purpose facilities. The legacy of the facilities will be short-lived."
Warner pointed out that some Local Organising Committees were misleading the public on ticket sales, the T&T LOC one day announcing all the tickets were sold out and the following day, that some were available.
"The marketing is atrocious. I checked this morning and I was told I could get 100 tickets. I asked eight persons when the first match would be played and seven did not know."
He suggested that it was because the event was government-funded and they were not concerned whether the event paid for itself.
But Warner urged West Indies not to let their guards down because the world would look for flaws to justify that the West Indies should not host the event.
"They expect us to fail on the field and off the field."
He said security should be the concern of all LOCs and the hosts should be honest to point out the areas that should be avoided because of crime.
"Barbados is a model in the Caribbean in being safe to move around. We must not compromise on safety. We have to emphasis personal security."
Warner said the world expected more than cricket and visitors would be looking for clean hotels, good restaurants, cheap shopping and tours to see the culture of the hosts.
He said the world could be placed into two groups - fans at the venues and those watching the event on television sets and listening to radio.
The FIFA executive said that had his advice been sought, he would have offered the marketing strategy of FIFA, have more youth involvement and make the ticket prices more affordable for the man in the street.
He said the West Indies could have used the event to set new rules for hosting the event, like rewarding the players and officials more and taking away absurd restrictions.
"A FIFA referee in the World Cup finals is paid US$50 000 and $250 per day.