World Cup 2018 – Fallout

Two days on the FIFA decision on Thursday still hurts and continues to make headlines. The debate about the rights and wrongs will rumble on. In looking to close out what has occurred this week, the words of acting FA Chairman Roger Burden possibly best sum up the frustrations of the England Bid Team.

“…We (England) were equal top of FIFA’s own technical assessment of the four bids…We were top of an independent assessment of the best commercial bids and our presentation on Thursday was widely acclaimed as the best of the 2018 and 2022 bids…Against this background, I am struggling to understand how we only achieved two votes. It is difficult to believe that the voting was an objective process…On top of that, Prince William, the Prime Minister and other members of our delegation were promised votes that did not materialise…”

Burden points to the obvious question, in that if the Bid is based on the FIFA assessments and the England Bid came out on top in these, then what where the factors that the Executive Committee used to make its decision to award the 2018 event to Russia?

Unfortunately the Sunday Times and BBC Panorama programme provided the “excuse” for FIFA to reject the England Bid.

Roger Burden has subsequently withdrawn his application for the position of FA Chairman, saying that in the post he would have to work closely with FIFA, but feels he would be unable to, as he no longer trusts or has faith in the FIFA Executive Committee. A thought echoed by many, many people after Thursday.

World Cup 2018 – D-day

Thursday 02 December 2010 – So here we go. After two years effort by the various Bid teams, the decision to award the 2018 and 2022 FIFA World Cups is only hours away. Just as the 2022 hopefuls made their final presentations yesterday, this morning the 2018 Bids make their final 30 minute pleas. The Netherlands/Belgium Bid team kick-off proceedings, followed by Spain/Portugal, England and finally Russia. The Executive Committee then go into their conclave, with the announcement likely from 15:00.

Just to reiterate, 12 votes are needed to secure a majority. If this figure isn’t reached in the first round of voting, then the Bid with the fewest votes drops out and another round of voting occurs until the majority is achieved.

What is my gut feeling? Well the bookies are rarely far off the mark and if they are to be believed then Russia (2018) and Qatar (2022) will be celebrating later today. My preferences are England (2018) and Australia (2022), but I don’t really believe that this will come to pass and so I don’t feel nervous as the minutes tick away to decision time.

The fact is that I believe that the England 2018 is the best bid in so many ways and this was further reinforced a few days ago by the report compiled by FIFA consultants McKinsey which revealed that after an analysis of a number of financial sectors, England topped the findings as the Bid would meet 100% profitability in every area. 2018 rivals Spain/Portugal received 91%, Netherlands/Belgium were given 87% and Russia were awarded 86%.

However, there has to be an acceptance that there are people looking for an excuse not to award the tournament to England. The Sunday Times investigation and the BBC Panorama programme supplied some ammunition for the detractors of the English Bid as did the ugly scenes at the end of the Birmingham City and Aston Villa League Cup game last night.

Despite my lack of optimism, is there a final twist to proceedings today? Back in 2001 Beckham saved England’s blushes against Greece with a last minute free-kick to secure qualification for the 2002 World Cup. Can “Becks” inspire another England team of a different kind, to snatch a dramatic win?

World Cup 2018 – 1 day to decision

Given all the controversy surrounding the media and the England 2018 Bid it is easy to forget that tomorrow FIFA also decide on who is hosting the 2022 World Cup. Today the five Bidding countries make their final presentations to the FIFA Executive Committee. These 30 minute slots are the last chance to impress and capture the necessary votes. Australia are first up, followed by South Korea, Qatar and USA, with Japan the final country to present.

From a purely personal viewpoint, I’d like to see Australia get the nod. It would meet FIFA’s desire of taking the Finals to new countries and would be a reward for all the strides the Aussies have taken in developing their domestic League (A-League). The national team are no strangers to the world stage and have played in three World Cup Finals; 1974 (West Germany), 2006 (Germany) and 2010 (South Africa). Australia has a fantastic sporting tradition and is a sports-mad nation, given this, the Aussies would put on a real show and be a perfect host for 2022.

The bookies however are tipping Qatar as favourites, followed by Australia and USA. Qatar have lined up an impressive array of Ambassadors for their Bid including, French World Cup winning captain Zinedine Zidane, Saudi Arabian striker Sami Al-Jaber, who played in the 1994, 1998, 2002 and 2006 World Cups and was the first Saudi player in England when he made a handful of appearances for Wolves. Others pressing the claims of the Qatar Bid include Argentinean legend Gabriel Batistuta, Netherlands star Ronald de Boer (who has played in Qatar), Barcelona manager Pep Guardiola, Cameroon icon Roger Milla and Bora Milutinovic who coached five different teams to five consecutive World Cups,  Mexico in 1986, Costa Rica in 1990, USA in 1994, Nigeria in 1998 and China in 2002.

To rip-off a song used by cricket fans Down-Under, “C’mon Aussies, C’mon, C’mon” As an Englishman I never thought I’d hear myself say that.

World Cup 2018 – 2 days to decision

So that was it? 29 minutes which basically featured details of a case that has been through the Swiss Courts back in 2008. So where was the new evidence? What bit of it was in the public interest? Will the BBC be trotting off to the Police with their “allegations”? So the Panorama team has a list from a “trusted source”, but what direct links do the payments details have with those that they accuse? Where’s the proof?

The way the journalist Andrew Jennings went about the programme gave the impression that it was a personal vendetta against FIFA, rather than an impartial investigative story. A visit to his website shows an obsession with FIFA related stories, which frankly was reflected in last night’s television offering.

It’s an unfortunate fact of modern society, that where there is business and politics or any arena where there is much to gain, whether in financial terms or individual power, there will be corruption. It doesn’t mean it is right or should be ignored, but for the media to act like saints who know what is in our best interest is frankly patronising.

The timing of the programme just doesn’t make sense sentiments echoed by Andy Anson, the head of England’s 2018 Bid, who said he was “…disappointed with the timing of the programme…” and added “…it is certainly not going to win us any votes so we just have to see what happens tonight (Monday) and move on…”

It shows how “informed” the programme was in stating that England’s fate lay in the hands of Nicolas Leoz and Ricardo Teixeira. The reality is that the South American Federation has already pledged its support to the Spain/Portugal Bid. Where the damage will be done is with regard to Issa Hayatou and Jack Warner, as England would have been targeting the CAF (Central Africa) and CONCACAF (North & Central Africa and Caribbean) votes.

As a final thought – you know there is something not quite right in the world when David Mellor is dragged out by the BBC to give advice on integrity and morals.

World Cup 2018 – 3 days to decision

Tonight the BBC does its bit to support the England 2018 World Cup Bid with a Panorama programme titled, “FIFA’s Dirty Secrets”. This obviously in-depth 29 minute masterpiece of journalism, “…investigates corruption allegations against some of the FIFA officials who will vote on England’s World Cup bid. Reporter Andrew Jennings exposes new evidence of bribery, and accuses some executives of taking kickbacks. He also uncovers the secret agreements that could guarantee FIFA a financial bonanza if England hosts the World Cup…”

Now will the producers be gathering last minutes facts and interviews before a last ditch edit to ensure the programme goes out at 20:30? Of course not. This piece of work from the Panorama will have long been in the can and ready to show. Why if this programme is as the BBC say, so necessary for the public interest, was it not transmitted before now? The reason, pure and simple, is about the egos within the Panorama team and the BBC wanting the programme to have maximum exposure and controversy, so will put it out just 3 days before the FIFA decision.

If the BBC is so concerned about the publics moral welfare, why didn’t they submit their “evidence” along with the Sunday Times expose to FIFA at the recent Ethics Committee hearing in Zurich? Simple, they want their own slice of the action. It’s rather like a witness withholding evidence until a time that benefits them. The other alternative is that the programme doesn’t actually hold water so has nothing to say based on fact and instead the audience will be treated to less than half an hour of suggestion, speculation, hearsay, coincidence, rumours and assumptions.

Events such the FIFA World Cup are protected under the terms of Independent Television Committee Code on Sports and Other Listed Events. This seeks to ensure that listed events are available to watch on free-to-air channels. For the 2010 World Cup in South Africa ITV and BBC shared the UK coverage.

Whether or not England is successful on Thursday, how wonderful would it be if the Government decided that from 2014 sporting rights for the listed events had to be bid for by ITV, BBC, Channel 4 and Five. The Bid would be to gain a contract to share the listed events for the next 20 years. Let’s see how the BBC would enjoy having their Bid put under scrutiny and damaging articles about the BBC’s Senior Managers and Sports departments spread all over the media just days before the contract is awarded.

As France found out in South Africa, after their controversial World Cup Play-Off win over Ireland – what goes around comes around. Who knows what is ahead for the BBC?

World Cup 2018 – 4 days to decision

Very much calm before the storm – in the case of the England 2018 Bid Team, a storm of two halves. The first of these is the BBC Panorama programme tomorrow night and the second, Decision Day itself on Thursday.

In these quiet moments before then, the Bid Team should perhaps think of the FIFA 2018 World Cup as the another piece in an amazing decade to come for sport in this country. England has in the next few years an outstanding sporting calendar to feast upon.

Next year in 2012 the Olympics returns to London after a 64 year gap. The capital first held the event in 1908 and was awarded the games in 1944, but with the Second World War raging they never took place and instead in 1948 London hosted the Games of the XIV Olympiad.

In 2013 the Rugby League World Cup returns to these shores for the fifth occasion. Previous tournaments took place here in 1960, 1970, 1995 and 2000. The 1992 Final was also played at Wembley, although the Qualifying games took place around the world over a three year period.

Just two years later in 2015, the Rugby Union World will be on English soil. England was the designated host back in 1991, although the tournamnet was spead around the United Kingdom, Ireland and France. In 1999 Wales hosted the event and as with 1991 the fixtures were played in the rest of the United Kingdom, Ireland and France. The intention for 2015 is that virtually all games will be in England, with the Millennium Stadium in Wales being the exception.

If fate decides then 2018 would see the FIFA World Cup in England after 52 years and the sporting decade would be rounded off with the Cricket World Cup in 2019. England hosted the first three World Cups (1975, 1979 and 1983) and then again in 1999. So will be back in England after a 20 year absence.

The message to the FIFA Executives is clear; this is a country that has successfully bid for hosting the bigest sporting events on the planet in the coming decade. That is not a coincidence but credit to this country, its sporting bodies and the fanatical sporting public. It is time to bring the 21st FIFA World Cup back to “The Home of Football”.

World Cup 2018 – 5 days to decision

Well is this a World Cup winning line-up? Does it contain enough influence to sway the FIFA Executive Members come 02 December? Each Bid is allowed 30 members and the England delegation is as follows:

HRH Prince William of Wales (FA President)

Rt Hon David Cameron, (Prime Minister)

David Beckham (Vice-President, England 2018)

Andy Anson (England 2018 Chief Executive)

David Dein (International President, England 2018)

Eddie Afekafe (Ambassador, England 2018)

Lord Coe (England 2018Board Member)

Roger Burden (acting FA Chairman)

Richard Scudamore (Premier League Chief Executive)

Greg Clarke (Football League Chairman)

Rt Hon Jeremy Hunt (Secretary of State Culture, Media Sport & Olympics)

Paul Elliott (England 2018 Board Member)

Lord Mawhinney (England 2018 Board Member)

Andy Cole (Football Ambassador)

Rt Hon Hugh Robertson (Minister for Sport)

Sir Bobby Charlton (Football Ambassador)

Fabio Capello (England Manager)

John Barnes (Football Ambassador)

Alan Shearer (Football Ambassador)

Gary Lineker (Football Ambassador)

Kadra Ege (Legacy Ambassador)

Boris Johnson (Mayor of London)

The remaining eight places within the 30-man delegation are taken by support and technical staff from the England 2018 Bid Team.

Most of the names are well known, but there are a couple which may be unfamiliar. Kadra Ege, is the founder of Brent Ladies FC. This is a community based youth organisation using sports and education to engage young people and support them in developing projects which benefit the community. The over-arching aim of the club is fundamentally to raise awareness of issues facing youth today including inequality, discrimination and crime and to empower and encourage positive change in their lives. Eddie Afekafe works for Manchester City’s football in the Community Programme and is heavily involved in the Premier League’s Kickz programme that provides opportunities for young people from disadvantaged backgrounds to get involved in sport.

Both of these people have been at the forefront of promoting the England 2018 Bids International Legacy Plans. Legacy, (i.e. what social, economic etc benefits a World Cup leaves and stimulates after the competition has ended), is a key target of FIFA in the award of the tournament.

Let’s hope the legacy of the 30 England’s delegates is the first World Cup on English soil for 52 years.

World Cup 2018 – 6 days to decision

The news that the South American Football Federation (CONMEBOL) have pledged their 3 votes to the Spain/Portugal Bid should not come as any great surprise, considering the historical and cultural links between the respective countries. Indeed the Iberian Bid team are in bullish mood, with the Spain/Portugal Chief Executive Miguel Angel Lopez confidently claiming they had 8 of the 22 votes.

With the Nigerian and Tahitian members banned from voting the 22 remaining votes are spread as follows:

Continent Organisation


Asia AFC


Central Africa CAF


Europe UEFA


North & Central America and Caribbean CONCACAF


South America CONMEBOL


Sepp Blatter FIFA President


 The method used to elect the successful Host Nation will be via the Exhaustive Ballot. In the Exhaustive Ballot each FIFA member casts a single vote for the candidate bid of their choice. However, if no nation receives an absolute majority of votes (in this case 12) then the bid with the fewest votes is eliminated and a further round of voting occurs. This process is repeated for as many rounds as necessary until one candidate has a majority. Sepp Blatter has a vote, with the FIFA President also having the casting vote in the event of a tie.

In this scenario a candidate who has the most votes in the first round does not necessarily win through. The trick is to avoid elimination and then pick up the votes of the nation just eliminated as the rounds of voting continue. To try and work out the numerous permutations of voting and the number of rounds it may take is a fruitless exercise in speculation.

This time next week, the England 2018 Bid Team will be waking up to face the morning after the night before. Hopefully they don’t awake to the sight of champagne still on ice.

World Cup 2018 – 7 days to decision

Over the years I’ve probably been to see England on about a dozen occasions. Two of those were World Cup Qualifying games. The first was against Switzerland at Wembley in November 1980. England lined-up as follows:

Shilton, Neal, Sansom, Robson, Watson, Mills (Captain), Coppell, McDermott, Mariner, Brooking (Rix), Woodcock.

It was a game that seemed to be all over and done with at half time. England had taken the lead on 22 minutes as Tony Woodcock’s shot was deflected in by Tanner. When Paul Mariner made it 2-0 on 36 minutes, it seemed that the points were safely secured and England would win comfortably. However, with the injured Trevor Brooking departing in the second-half Switzerland grew in confidence and were rewarded with a goal on 76 minutes by Pfister. Suddenly there was desperation about England and the Wembley crowd breathed a huge sigh of relief when the referee blew for full-time. My abiding memory of the game was provided by a group of Swiss fans. They supported their team with gusto throughout armed with the biggest set of cow-bells I’ve ever seen or heard.

 If the Swiss game was an uncomfortable experience, then worse was to follow in April the following year. Romania were the opponents as England lined-up as follows:

Shilton, Anderson, Sansom, Robson, Watson (Captain), Osman, Wilkins, Brooking (McDermott), Coppell, Francis, Woodcock.

 It was a game in which England never got going and struggled with a resolute Romanian defence. The game ended 0-0 and the England players were booed off at the end of the game, with Qualification looking difficult in a Group that was turning out to be very close.

Things got worse for Ron Greenwood’s team as in May 1981 they went to Switzerland and lost 2-1. This left three games left in which to salvage their World Cup campaign. England had two games in June of that year. The first was away to Group front-runners Hungary and they swept to a stunning 3-1 win in Budapest thanks to two goals from Trevor Brooking and one from Kevin Keegan. Just three days later England travelled to Norway and all seemed to be going well when Bryan Robson gave the visitors the lead on the quarter hour. However, by half-time Norway had stormed ahead 2-1. England found no way back and it led to the infamous commentary at the end of the game on Norwegian TV by Bjorge Lillelien. “…Lord Nelson! Lord Beaverbrook! Sir Winston Churchill! Sir Anthony Eden! Clement Attlee! Henry Cooper! Lady Diana! Maggie Thatcher – can you hear me, Maggie Thatcher! Your boys took one hell of a beating! Your boys took one hell of a beating!…”. The final game in the Group came in November 1981 at Wembley against Hungary who had already booked their World Cup place. An early Paul Mariner goal settled the nerves and England won 1-0 to seal Qualification for the 1982 World Cup.

The location for the 1982 World Cup was Spain. With a week to go to decision day, could that country be co-hosting the event in 2018?

World Cup 2018 – 8 days to decision

Just a teenager by a few of months, I remember with affection England winning the World Cup in 1966. For those not old enough to recall it, sorry, but it really was a special day and I shared in the nation’s joy on that sunny afternoon in late July. Our family holiday had taken us down to Perranporth and, sitting in the hotel lounge, we watched the Wembley drama unfold. Winning the Rugby Union World Cup pales into nothingness in comparison, despite all the media hype. That day gripped the whole nation, not just sections of it. As the game built to its extra time conclusion, so the crowd in the lounge grew. The chefs quit the kitchen to watch the compelling final minutes and, after we had won, people were so happy that there were hardly any complaints about our meals not being ready as a consequence. The tv audience was 32,300,000 (the biggest one ever, being two thirds of the total population) but I’m sure they forgot to count our chefs.

Reading the papers the next day was wonderful as each one celebrated that never-before or since event. The triumph lifted everybody, whilst beating a good, strong team and our traditional rivals West Germany made it even sweeter. Mind you, it is a long time ago now.

But all of those memories have made me yearn for the World Cup to return to England and I can’t believe it hasn’t happened yet. Both Mexico and Germany have hosted two since then, France have had two altogether and Brazil are lining up their second. Therefore, it is not unreasonable for the Home of Football to want a second turn – even if it seems tied in with the notion that that is perhaps our only way of winning it again. Sadly, that desire to host has been frustrated many times over the years, however, and if England fail this time, the next possible year will be 2026. 60 years since ’66 and there are no guarantees even then.

I have a great deal of sympathy for all the people who have been part of the 2018 England Bid. So much work has been put in that it will be galling if it is ultimately to no avail. But that must be true for people in the other bidding countries; Belgium & Netherlands, Russia, Portugal & Spain. And this is where I find the whole business unpalatable. There is something wrong with a system that encourages people to spend millions of pounds fruitlessly. I know that much of the stadium redevelopment will only happen if England’s bid is successful and yet an enormous amount of preparatory work has had to be done anyway. A winning bid will probably make it worthwhile but how can FIFA allow so many countries to spend so much? Isn’t there supposed to have been a global economic downturn? Maybe FIFA are from the Lord Young School of Economics?

Once I start to think about the bid and the voting process, I really begin to feel uncomfortable about the whole thing. People bang on about carbon footprints, global warming, saving the planet and so on, and yet bidders are jetting here there and everywhere, carrying wonderful gifts, making sparkling Powerpoint presentations and giving out plenty of free key rings in order to woo some very ordinary people into voting their way.

Most of me still hopes England’s bid is successful but, in the end, I wish FIFA had cut out all the fuss and printed a list saying ‘Here are the World Cup venues for the next forty years.’ And that England realised the best way to win it again is for the team to play the best football.   


Author: Graeme Garvey