England bid chief: No point bidding until system changes

Zurich: There is no point in countries like England, Australia or the United States bidding to host World Cup finals in the future until FIFA changes its voting system, England’s bid chief Andy Anson said on Friday.

He also said that he believed England’s bid was fatally damaged when FIFA president Sepp Blatter warned executive committee members of the “evils of the media” just before they voted.

Russia won the right to stage the 2018 finals on Thursday while England, who expected at least “seven or eight votes” were knocked out in the first round with just two including one from their own representative.

Anson told a news briefing on Friday that some FIFA members told him they turned off England’s bid by the British Broadcasting Corporation’s Panorama documentary and the Sunday Times’ investigations into corruption at FIFA.

Asked if he would advise England to bid again Anson said: “I would say right now don’t bother until you know that the process is going to change to allow bids like ours a chance to win.

“When you have the best technical bid, fantastic inspection visits and the best economic report, and from what people told us the best presentation yesterday -- it’s quite hard to stomach that seemed to count for absolutely nothing.

“Having only 22 guys voting gives them too much power and influence.

“Running two bids together for 2018 and 2022 was clearly a huge mistake.

“Everyone who had a vote and a bid clearly wanted to trade that vote for something that helped them get over the line in that campaign.

“Australia had a very good bid they got one vote, we had a very good bid and we got two, the United States had an unbelievably strong technical bid and got three.

“Six votes in the first round between those three, there’s something not quite right.

“For me this is an issue and FIFA needs to look at the process, because it makes it easy for formidable competitors like Russia and Qatar to gain influence.”

He suggested that FIFA consider reverting back to their old method of choosing hosts by a much bigger vote taken by all of its 208-members. That was the method used until the early 1970s.

Unhelpful Blatter

Regarding Blatter’s intervention, Anson said: “I think that was unhelpful -- the last thing those guys needed to hear before they go and tick the box is the evil of the media is not helpful and actually inaccurate.

“There was a final sum-up before they voted and I think it was at the beginning of that. That’s not helpful to our cause.”

Anson admitted that the defeat was hard to accept and he felt totally let down.

“I still find it hard to understand what happened. I’m not going to beat around the bush -- individual members promised to vote for us and didn’t clearly.

“That’s difficult to stomach when they have given you assurances. They are saying to us that our media killed us but I don’t believe that for one minute, but that’s what we are being told.

“Russia did a lot of last-minute lobbying and votes appeared to switch at the last minute -- we know some switched in the early hours of the morning. We are not naive and we were up until 5am, we left no stone unturned.”

“But I would advise any future England bid team not to bother, until the system changes. It is very hard to look some people in the eye this morning.”

Bureau Report

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