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Tuesday, Nov. 30, 2010

Japan World Cup bid chief concedes U.S. leads race

ZURICH (Kyodo) Japan 2022 World Cup bid committee chief and FIFA board member Junji Ogura believes the United States is Japan's biggest rival in the race to host soccer's showpiece tournament.

News photo
Home truths: Japan 2022 World Cup bid committee chief Junji Ogura believes the U.S. is well placed to win. KYODO PHOTO

Japan is also campaigning for 2022 against 2002 cohost South Korea, Australia and Qatar, but Ogura believes the income generated for FIFA by the overall number of spectators that would attend matches gives the U.S. an advantage.

"I'd say it would be America due to the capacity of the stadiums and the number of spectators over the course of the tournament. That would translate into income and income is what FIFA is hoping for," Ogura said in an interview on Sunday.

With the success of the 2002 World Cup, Japan has proved it is already capable of a top-notch global event and is counting on its experience and infrastructure to carry its bid.

Japan plans to use cutting-edge technology including live 3-D telecasts of World Cup matches in its bid to win the rights to stage the tournament on its own.

"We have placed our focus on a next-generation World Cup. I think the key will be how well we can explain our bid and how much will be understood in 30 minutes," said Ogura.

A ¥550 billion "Universal Fan Fest" project, boasting state-of-the-art audio visual equipment, is part of the bid Japan has submitted to FIFA.

The matches would reach 360 million people at about 400 locations around the world with the latest ultra-realistic communication technologies "providing an exciting, inspiring football experience" that would "deliver 208 smiles to every corner of the world."

"Our cutting-edge technology is not fiction and hopefully we will be able to explain well that we can actually make it reality," Ogura said.

Chelsea slips off top

LONDON (AP) Chelsea surrendered the Premier League lead it held since the opening day of the season with a 1-1 draw at Newcastle on Sunday, while Tottenham came from a goal down to beat Liverpool 2-1 and help mark a new scoring record.

After Chelsea conceded a sixth-minute opener to Andy Carroll and needed an equalizer from Salomon Kalou in first-half injury time to avoid a third straight league defeat, Tottenham's fifth winning comeback of the season meant that all 20 Premier League sides scored over the same weekend for the first time.

Chelsea has now taken just four of the last available 15 points and trails new leader Manchester United by two points.

"We are not happy," Chelsea coach Carlo Ancelotti said. "We are happy for the performance but we didn't start well. We conceded a goal too early. This made our game difficult but we reacted well.

"Now we need to keep going, stay focused, prepare for the next game and try to win."

United routed Blackburn 7-1 on Saturday to preserve the league's last unbeaten record and wipe out Chelsea's long-established superior goal difference.

That big win helped equal a 13-year-old Premier League record of 41 goals over a weekend. There could easily have been a new record but Tottenham striker Jermain Defoe wasted an opportunity to equalize when he put a 60th-minute penalty past the post

Martin Skrtel put Liverpool ahead three minutes before halftime following a ricochet in the area and then scored a 65th-minute own goal. Aaron Lennon won it for Tottenham in injury time with his first goal since Nov. 22, 2009.

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