Criticism ahead of visit of FIFA inspectors for Belgium-Netherlands bid

World Cup: Brazil <=> KroatiaImage by han Soete via Flickr
BRUSSELS — Some Belgian politicians are questioning the conditions under which FIFA wants the World Cup to be organized, only days before the arrival of inspectors to assess the Belgium-Netherlands bid for the 2018 or 2022 tournament.
The leader of the LDD party and a top socialist politician both questioned whether FIFA should be granted tax-free status during the World Cup and be allowed to impose marketing rules around stadiums. Several Belgian media joined in the criticism.
On Monday, a FIFA delegation starts a four-day tour through Belgium and the Netherlands to inspect stadiums and other World Cup infrastructure.
The Belgium-Netherlands bid team says organizing the World Cup will boost the credibility and produce a profit for each nation. Both Belgium and the Netherlands have caretaker governments at the moment that have previously backed the World Cup bid. It is unclear what the position of the new governments will be.
Some critics are unhappy with the all-powerful position of FIFA in staging the World Cup and its ability to make demands on organizers to accommodate the biggest single-sport event in the world.
"FIFA rules over the world and seems to have in every country privileges that are denied to others," said senator Bert Anciaux of the SP.A socialist party.
He said it should be unthinkable during the current economic crisis to give world football's governing body tax privileges.
Anciaux was joined by the LDD leader Jean-Marie De Decker in criticizing any possible taxation leeway. And he insisted that any government backing of the World Cup go through parliament first.
Nine candidates are seeking to host the World Cup in 2018 or 2022. Beyond Belgium and the Netherlands, Europe also has bids from Spain-Portugal, Russia and England.
FIFA, which earns 95 per cent of its income from the World Cup, collected at least US$3.2 billion in television, marketing, licensing and hospitality deals from the 2007-10 South Africa World Cup cycle. The exact figures and profit will be revealed next March in the 2010 financial report.
It has budgeted for $3.8 billion for the 2011-14 World Cup cycle.