The furor caused by the selection of Germany over South Africa as host nation for soccer's 2006 World Cup showed no sign of dying on Friday.
The South Africans are furious and considering legal action, the Germans are laughing, albeit a bit sheepishly, about a hoax letter that contributed to the uproar, and the man who caused it all is home in New Zealand, his future very much in doubt.
Charles Dempsey, the 78-year-old president of the Oceania Football Confederation (OFC), abstained in the final round of voting by FIFA's executive committee in Zurich, Switzerland, on Thursday. That enabled Germany to win the bid for the 2006 tournament on a 12-11 vote.
Had Dempsey voted for South Africa as instructed by his confederation once England was eliminated, the vote would have been 12-12 and Joseph "Sepp" Blatter, FIFA's president, would have broken the tie in favor of South Africa.
Blatter, who had long voiced his preference for the World Cup to go to an African country for the first time, was angered and embarrassed by the eventual outcome.
Dempsey, speaking for the first time about his decision, said Friday in Singapore that it was "intolerable pressure" that caused him to abstain, which he said that he did on the advice of an attorney.
He was pressured, he said, "not by the actual bidding people, but by people on the fringe, and incessant phone calls I was receiving in my room and also the attempt to bribe me."
It was unclear whether Dempsey was referring to a real bribe attempt or to the hoax that was perpetrated on eight executive committee members by a German satirical magazine before the vote.
Titanic, a Frankfurt-based magazine, acknowledged Friday that it had faxed letters to the eight men, including Dempsey, offering a "small gift" in exchange for voting for Germany.
These gifts included "a fine basket of specialties from the Black Forest" and "a wonderful cuckoo clock."
Such patently absurd offers were dismissed out of hand by most who received them.
"We are treating it [the letter] with the contempt it deserves," said Jack Warner, the Trinidadian president of CONCACAF, soccer's North and Central American and Caribbean confederation.
"The whole thing was done so stupidly and in such an amateur fashion that we don't want to give the issue any more meaning than it deserves," FIFA spokesman Keith Cooper said.
Nevertheless, FIFA, world soccer's governing body, is looking into the matter but only as a formality. Officials said that there will be no new election.
"The vote as itself stands, that is not part of the discussion," FIFA spokesman Andreas Herren said.
"We just want to find out what the motivation was. So many people can have an interest in the vote. We would like to know what were the origins [of the faxed letters].
"Depending on the results of our internal inquiry, we may take this to the authorities."
Explaining the hoax, Martin Sonneborn, editor in chief of Titanic, told Reuters, "I did it for my country. We wanted to get the World Cup in 2006 because that is the only chance our team has to qualify."
Franz Beckenbauer, who led Germany's successful campaign, called the hoax "laughable" and "ridiculous," and Horst Schmidt, general secretary of the German soccer federation (DFB), said it "broke the limits of good taste" and had done "huge damage" to Germany. He said the DFB is considering legal action.
Joke or not, there was no laughter in South Africa.
Irvin Khoza, chairman of South Africa's bid committee, said legal advice is being sought on whether Dempsey's abstention was valid.
Thabo Mbeki, South Africa's president, told a business conference in Midrand, near Johannesburg, that the FIFA vote "has got elements of dishonesty about it."
The reaction in New Zealand was also somber.
Trevor Mallard, the country's sports minister, said he was "shocked that one individual seems to have abused his voting right by disregarding instructions on voting requirements."
Bill MacGowan, chief executive of the New Zealand soccer federation, said OFC executives will meet Dempsey on Sunday to seek an explanation for his actions.
Said Dempsey: "I'll make a statement on Monday after I meet my executive committee."
"The last two days has been something horrible. . . . Football is no longer a sport, it's a political scene."
Sources said that Dempsey probably would be asked to resign his position as OFC president and would lose his place on FIFA's executive committee.
"I may get shot, I don't know," Dempsey told Reuters.
Meanwhile, the entire episode has further undermined Blatter's position as FIFA president. He lost the support of Asia last year in a battle over how many berths it would have in the 2002 World Cup in Japan and South Korea.
Now he has seen his European support dwindle by backing Africa in 2006.
Lennart Johansson, the Swedish president of UEFA, European soccer's governing body, said Friday that the system of awarding the World Cup needs to be changed and that Africa should receive the 2010 tournament.
"We must act now to take away the unnecessary tension and division caused by the current system," he said.
"The experience of the campaign to host 2006 has confirmed my belief in the need for a rotation system [between continents] to be introduced for future competitions."