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World Cup bids leave bad taste

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So there we have it.  After 18 months of political lobbying, journalist digging, scandal, corruption and a last minute Royal-infused, David Beckham inspired dash to the line, England’s 2018 World Cup bid ended in dismal failure.

We are not alone though. For my friends on the other side of the Atlantic it was also a grim day yesterday as America missed the chance to host the World Cup again to, of all places, Qatar.

After witnessing England and then America lose out in their bids it is easy to be accused of being bitter. And I admit I am gutted England lost. To see the World Cup come back to my own country would be a dream come true and I fear we may never get the chance again.

But, nearly 24 hours after the event and taking my England hat off for a minute, I still feel the whole bidding and voting process leaves a lot to be desired....


For many who have seen the bid process develop over the past few weeks the choice of Russia is perhaps no surprise. As pointed out in their bid presentation Eastern Europe has never hosted a World Cup and their country harbours a growing passion and, crucially, the financial support for a football tournament of this magnitude.

As an England fan I can perhaps grudgingly accept that, it is their turn. But I don't think it's the losing that's the galling thing. It’s the fact we had the best technical and commercial bid yet came LAST out of all four countries with just one vote other than our own.

Then the decision to award Qatar the 2022 WC despite also having the weakest bid says it all - it was seen as 'high risk' by the FIFA report!

America and Australia were both safe, reliable venues yet the riskiest of them all had been chosen.

Add to that the shady bidding process, allegations of corruption and the fact the executives lied to the faces of the England bid team ( with one apparently pledging the future king of England their vote before siding with Russia) means it all leaves a bitter taste in the mouth.

The power is shifting in football. Super rich men of the middle east and Russia have developed an interest in the sport (mainly due to the Premier League ironically) so it was inevitable that after taking their slice of the Premier League pie in Chelsea and Man City they will have wanted to get the World Cup - and will have paid and done whatever else it took to get it.

Plus by giving such power to such few people in the confines of FIFA HQ, it was also going to invite shady allegations of vote rigging, collusion and bribery.

It is easy to accuse the English of sour grapes; in fact it is easy to accuse the English of anything at the moment as we seem to be the world's most unpopular country. But to put our failure purely down to perceived 'arrogance' and FIFA's whiter than white vision of spreading the game to new boundaries is naïve.

Yes the English press didn’t help and Sepp Blatter’s alleged reminder to executives, right before the vote, to bear recent media coverage in mind before voting, simply gave them ample excuses not to vote for England.

For those who don't know an English Sunday Times investigation accused two FIFA exexcutives, Amos Adamu and Reynald Temarii, of offering to sell their votes in return for bribes, such as the promise of funds to build football pitches and facilities in their country. They were subsequently banned from voting in the ballot.

Then, three days before the vote, a BBC Panorama programme claimed they had evidence of corruption dating back to the 1990s. They claimed to have a paper trail showing how FIFA excecutives Nicolas Leoz , Ricardo Teixeira and Issa Hayatou were paid by sports marketing company International Sport and Leisure (ISL) between 1989 to 1999 in return for exclusive broadcast and marketing rights. ISL went bust in 2001.

Concacaf chief Jack Warner was also targeted. Panorama says it has seen e-mails and an invoice which show Mr Warner was involved in the purchase of $84,000 worth of 2010 World Cup tickets.

The e-mail trail suggests the tickets were destined for the black market but the planned deal - including 38 tickets for the final in Johannesburg - collapsed because the touts were not prepared to pay the asking price. Warner was accused of doing the same during the 2006 tournament don't forget.

In such a secretive, powerful and self-preserving group as FIFA such press intrusion didn't go down well and it clearly hampered England's chances.

But are darker forces are at work here? if they had nothing to hide why get so annoyed with the English media? And is it a coincidence that both Russia and Qatar don't have a completely free press? Was our excellent technical report, commercial report and bid presentation really worth just ONE outside vote?

If the rumours are true all our last minute lobbying and excellent bid presentation were a waste of time anyway – we never had a chance.

England bid chief Andy Anson is right in saying we shouldn’t bother bidding for another tournament until the voting process is reformed and I would urge the US and Australia to do the same.

The decision, based on these to results, is clearly not judged on a country’s ability to host a successful, safe and profitable tournament. Indeed rumours are now circulating that just three of the 22 excecutives actually bothered to read our technical report.

We better get used to waiting though as it will take more than one Panorama expose to breach the formidable cash-filled wall FIFA have built around themselves.

But, alas we all have to move on.


The Premier League returns this weekend and a good result for my side will make forget all about it. Though the way Everton are playing I'm not holding out much hope!

I also truly hope now that Russia and Qatar put on great World Cups. Good luck to them.

It would be great If football does, in the end, emerge the winner out of this sordid political mess and give us a reminder of why we fell in love with the game in the first place.