Tokyo: England’s bid to host the 2018 World Cup was compromised by media allegations of corruption against FIFA executive committee members, according to Japanese soccer chief Junji Ogura.
Ogura, the head of Japan’s failed bid to land the 2022 World Cup and a member of FIFA’s executive committee, said on Tuesday that allegations by the Sunday Times newspaper and BBC had left members “furious” and threatening to sue.
England’s bid to stage the World Cup for the first time in more than half a century ended in a humiliating first-round defeat when they collected just two votes from the 22-man FIFA executive committee.
One of those votes was from England’s representative Geoff Thompson, the other is believed to have come from Ogura. Russia was awarded hosting rights for the 2018 soccer showpiece.
“The African members of the executive committee were furious over the Sunday Times report,” Ogura said at the Japan Football Association headquarters.
“They even suggested suing the paper at the executive committee meeting,” Kyodo News quoted him as saying.
The JFA president was bewildered at the timing of the stories in the English media.
“If the reports are true then that would be sad. But until they can present the evidence, then it’s hard for any of us to definitively say anything.
“But what I can say is that the reports definitely had an impact on the England bid. There’s no mistake about that.
“I have a hard time understanding why a network as prestigious as the BBC would go with a story like that at that particular time.”
Ogura did not reveal which of the 2018 bids he voted for but said the four “Asian” bidders (Japan, South Korea, Australia and Qatar) backed Qatar in the last round for 2022 as had been agreed.