London: British Prime Minister David Cameron believes the BBC’s probe into FIFA’s affairs will not affect England’s 2018 World Cup bid although he said he was frustrated at the timing of the Panorama documentary.
The investigation into alleged corruption within soccer’s world governing body will be broadcast on Nov. 29 just three days before FIFA delegates vote in Zurich to decide the host countries for the 2018 and 2022 World Cups.
“I’ve obviously spoken about these issues with FIFA delegates,” Cameron told the BBC’s Football Focus programme.
“What I’d say is that this is a free country, we have a free media.
“Is it frustrating that Panorama is doing this programme a few days before (the vote)? Of course it is but it’s a free country and you have to roll with that. I think FIFA will understand that.”
England are competing against Russia and joint bids from Spain/Portugal and Netherlands/Belgium to hold the 2018 tournament.
The leader of the English bid Andy Anson has accused the state-funded broadcaster of being unpatriotic and of undermining the country’s hopes of hosting the tournament.
The documentary follows allegations made in Britain’s Sunday Times newspaper last month that two members of FIFA’s executive committee were prepared to sell their votes for cash.
Reynald Temarii of Tahiti was subsequently banned for one year and fined after FIFA’s ethics committee found him guilty of violating rules on general conduct and loyalty while Nigeria’s Amos Adamu was banned for three years and fined for corruption.
Four other FIFA officials were also banned and fined.
England were joint top in FIFA’s technical evaluation for the 2018 finals along with Spain/Portugal and Cameron stressed the positive aspects of his country’s bid.
“The world watches English football, the world comes and plays its football in England and so bringing the World Cup to England is such a natural step,” he said.
“Now, we’ve got a real fight on our hands in Zurich but I’m looking forward to it because I think we’ve got a great case to make.”