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England will fight to the very last

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David Bond | 08:43 UK time, Thursday, 2 December 2010

Zurich, Switzerland

It was like a who's who of English football and politics in the Baur Au Lac Hotel on Wednesday night. In one corner of the intimate lobby, where so much of the action is happening, there was David Beckham and Fabio Capello. In another, Richard Scudamore, the chief executive of the Premier League, chatting with Mohamed Bin Hammam, head of the Asian Football Confederation and Qatar's Fifa vice-president.

Lord Sebastian Coe, Culture Secretary Jeremy Hunt and Sports Minister Hugh Robertson were also out in force but the most amusing moment of the evening came when Mayor of London Boris Johnson bounded into the room.

Spotting Chuck Blazer, the American Fifa executive committee member sitting with the actor Morgan Freeman, Johnson made straight for the key voter, patting him on the arm before proceeding to fist pump his way around the room, urging 'Come on England'.

Just what the Fifa members made of all this is anyone's guess but any doubts over England's commitment to the 2018 World Cup campaign will surely have been swept away.

boris595pa.jpgLondon Mayor Boris Johnson has added his weight to England's 2018 bid. Photo: PA

Upstairs in two luxury suites, Prime Minister David Cameron and Prince William were doing the hard talking with key voters in Thursday's election.

After meeting a series of the delegates on Tuesday, Cameron returned from prime minister's questions in Westminster to pick up where he left off by talking with Korea's Dr Chung Jong Moon, Thailand's Worawi Makudi and Japan's Junji Ogura.

Crucially, Prince William spent time with Jack Warner, the Trinidad vice-president who controls at least two of the three Concacaf votes England need to really stand a chance of winning Thursday's election. I understand Warner is now considered so important to England's chances that another meeting between him and Cameron is planned for Thursday morning - only hours before the official presentations.

It is this show of force and strategic lobbying by England's big-name ambassadors that has given their 2018 campaign hope that they can pull off what would be a quite extraordinary comeback.

On Monday, there was a real sense of despondency and defeatism as officials waited for BBC's Panorama programme to be broadcast.

There is no question that the programme had the potential to do England real lasting damage - particularly as Warner, who was accused of ticket touting, and African football chief Issa Hayatou were the main men in the firing line. So upset was Hayatou, who has since denied allegations of bribery, that he is said to have been close to tears in a Fifa executive committee meeting earlier this week. But by lunchtime - and following Cameron's arrival here - it became clear the English bid had not been fatally wounded.

And while other bids have perhaps become complacent over their core support, England have launched into a series of high-profile meetings, all tightly co-ordinated between 2018, Downing Street and Clarence House.

Such was the growing mood of optimism on Wednesday night that one Downing Street aide tried to dampen expectations amid fears that the England bid could wreck any chance it had of victory by appearing overconfident. "Although we are in there fighting hard," he told me, "we are still some way short of the votes we need."

That may well be the case - and the push for Warner remains critical - but, allowing for the difficulties in predicting any World Cup vote, England believe they have a strategy that can bring the event back to the country for the first time since 1966.

With insufficient support to secure the 12-vote majority needed to land a knockout blow in round one, England will have to build slowly and hope they can come up on the rails.

There were suggestions on Wednesday night that Spain and Portugal's much-talked about alliance with Qatar was wavering but it is still thought solid enough to ensure that the Iberian bid has seven or eight votes to win the first round.

Despite Prime Minister Vladimir Putin's absence, Russia still has a solid core of six or seven votes, with Fifa president Sepp Blatter, Franz Beckenbauer of Germany and their own Vitaly Mutko thought to be the strongest backers.

england2018g595.jpgEngland's big-hitters campaigned long and hard in Zurich. Photo: Getty Images


For England, five votes might be enough to survive round one. With their own Geoff Thompson, Japan's Junji Ogura and Turkey's Senes Erzik on board, they believe they need only Warner of Trinidad and Blazer of the United States to get through.

The absolute best-case scenario would be that, in addition to that five, England get the backing of Concacaf's Rafael Salguero, who could also favour Spain-Portugal, Hayatou, Chung and the Ivory Coast's Jacques Anouma. That would be some achievement and would put England in the driving seat. However, it is a long shot.

If England can get enough votes to progress past the first round and the Netherlands-Belgium are eliminated, England would hope that the latter's supporters - Uefa president Michel Platini and Belgium's Dr Michel D'Hooghe - would switch to them.

That could give the England bid enough votes to beat the Russians and set up a showdown with Spain-Portugal in the final round.

The Iberian bid, notable by its absence in the Baur au Lac on Wednesday night, would still be hard to beat but England would hope that those voters who backed Russia in the first two rounds would be persuaded to make them their second preference. This is why meetings with Blatter and Cyprus member Marios Lefkaritis are viewed as so important.

England also hope their cause is boosted by a backlash from some Fifa executive committee members angry at the alliance between Spain-Portugal and Qatar, who are bidding for the right to stage the 2022 tournament.

Predicting any World Cup vote is near impossible, though, and England are preparing for at least three more scenarios: a possible first-round elimination; a first-round vote-off against the Netherlands-Belgium; or a final-round contest with Russia.

The significance of Putin's decision to stay away from Zurich and attack rivals for unfair competition is also difficult to read, although it is hard to believe he would not be here if there was even the slightest chance of victory.

People must also keep in mind that this is a secret ballot involving 22 men who may well say one thing and then do something completely different when the vote takes place.

But for England to now feel they are in with a chance of winning the right to stage the 2018 World Cup shows just how much progress they have made in such a short time given where they were at the start of the week.

UPDATE 0930 GMT

With the presentations under way at Fifa House, it is still not clear whether England's bid team managed to secure a crucial meeting with Jack Warner this morning. Number 10 sources told me that Prime Minister David Cameron had not met with the Trinidad vice-president but it is possible members of the bid did secure a breakfast meeting.

England are keen to do a deal with Warner that would really put them in with a chance of winning Thursday's vote. But can they secure enough core voters to offer Warner and Concacaf's bid for USA 2022 in return. Warner is understood to be playing his cards close to his chest and that may be why England are trying to dampening expectations.

UPDATE: 1110 GMT

England's bid presentation was by far the best so far. Slick and making the most of its heavyweight ambassadors - David Cameron, David Beckham and Prince William. Genuine warmth from Sepp Blatter, describing it as "excellent" and remarkable".

Using Eddie Adekafe, Manchester City's community development officer, as the link between the star turns was a clever move. The Prime Minister and Prince William were also impressive but if England win then Beckham's speech - in particular, his tear-jerking reference to his grandfather, who died a year ago today - will be the 'Seb Coe' moment.

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There is some suggestion here that Engand's presentation could be good enough to sway one or two votes. But, as the England team troop off to a restaurant near the Messehalle to await their fate, minus Cameron, who is flying straight back to London for a meeting with the Prince of Wales, the big question is this: Is it too late to change the voters' minds or make them break their deals?

Comments

  • Comment number 1.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 2.

    He looks like some fan who has just wondered into the room, standing there listening.

    What did he offer to that conversation "If i wor Rooney, i'd go and stick one on that Ronaldo when we get back to manchester utd"

  • Comment number 3.

    I thought Franz Beckenbauer came out in strong support of England's bid - what made him jump ship to Russia? How did Jack Warner, the Trinidad vice-president get to control at least two of the three Concacaf votes? Why didn't Beckham get a shave and a haircut? ;)

  • Comment number 4.

    Or did he amuse them all by describing his retirement from International football in his peak? True patriotism

  • Comment number 5.

    Thank goodness we have done away with the arrogance and are now lobbying in the right way! Treating people the right way is the be all and end all in world politics, scratch their backs and you get yours scratched too. Why we failed to grasp this simple logic for so long is baffling

  • Comment number 6.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 7.

    At 09:25am on 02 Dec 2010, tomefccam wrote:
    "He looks like some fan who has just wondered into the room, standing there listening."

    Just spit half a mandarin on my laptop screen laughing at that, cheers!

  • Comment number 8.

    There is a scene in Forest Gump, I think if I recall correctly its dueing the school race riots and Forrest is just stood there listening on.

    thats who shearer looks like.

    Run Shearer, Run!

  • Comment number 9.

    We know that England have some votes in the bag - representatives from Egypt (England agreed the recent friendly at Wembley), Thailand (England have apparently agreed to play a friendly there in 2011) and Guatemala (where England are providing coaching) as well as Jack Warner's two other votes from Central America - unless he changes his mind - and England's own vote. That makes six.

    Spain/Portugal have Spain's own vote and three S American votes plus perhaps two other certainties and possibly Qatar if rumours are to be believed - seven.

    That leaves 9 other votes with some being certainties for Russia and a few for Holland/Belgium. There are probably no more than 2 or 3 floating votes in the first ballot.

    It looks like England or Spain/Portugal will have to make up numbers with 2nd or 3rd choices to get past the line!

  • Comment number 10.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 11.

    @ 10. Good luck getting the truth past the mods....

  • Comment number 12.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 13.

    @ #7

    Glad you liked it

    @ #8

    1st class, I remember the scene well. Gump doctored into a scene. Shearer's presence looks just as bogus.

    I'm suprised nobody requested the removal of "The fat bald fan" from this meeting

  • Comment number 14.

    What's all this? We just had a World Cup!! Is there another one? Will it be in England? I hope I can get tickets to many of the games including the final. Does anyone know if it will still be snowing???

  • Comment number 15.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 16.

    @12. Exactly. Like everything now, it's become an overblown excuse for people with more money than brain cells to hype up a non event.

    Question? With the dismal quality of the last five WC's do we, as people who most likely thanks to FIFA's ticketing policies won't see a single game, REALLY care?

  • Comment number 17.

    I've got man flu so I don't care anymore - aaaaaaaaacccccttttttthhhhhhooooooooooooo!!!!!!!!!!

  • Comment number 18.

    England for 2018
    Australia for 2022

    It musn't go to the USA.

  • Comment number 19.

    Is Alan Hansen lurking in the background? How else will Shearer know what to say?

  • Comment number 20.

    On paper England should get this bid, I have to say Beckham, William and Cameron, delivered the best speech.

    But Like the Eurovision no-one backs this country even thou they should.

    In theory There is no excuses for England not to get it now. No other country has battled as hard as England and everything is perfect for it to happen. It would be another scandal if we failed.

    Should be in the bag now.... ON ON ENGLAND!!!

  • Comment number 21.

    If Spain / Portugal win it we will probally end up paying for it when we bail out their countries financially.

  • Comment number 22.

    Let's face it, the final decision has got nothing to do with the bids.

    And if England don't get the 2018 WC let's hope it goes to Spain & Portugal where it will be guaranteed good weather and a good time had by all.

  • Comment number 23.

    I think we messed it up by referring to all the Premier League overseas players. What does it say? Make England hosts because... good players from all over the world play here? So what? None of them could or would actually endorse our bid... I agree with the Spanish: Torres is theirs not ours.

  • Comment number 24.

    Get ready to party tonight like it`s 1960 - which was the previous occassion when FIFA awarded the World Cup to England.

    Amongst all the candidates, England is the ONLY logical choice as the winning 2018 host.

    All of the potential hosts have political and/or economic problems, but the so-called favourites Russia will struggle to even host the lesser event of the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi. To give them the World Cup would be a huge gamble that would ultimately backfire on FIFA.

    Spain and Portugal`s assertion that they already have 8 assured votes is merely playing mind-games, they are both economic basket-cases and quite incapable of committing enough resources to be a success.

    The case for Holland would be quite good, but for the fact that Belgium is a huge liabilty in that the country is too fractured to be able to commit the necessary resources for a successful bid.

    That leaves England, who would surely generate the most cash for FIFA, as the clear winner - it is a slam-dunk certainty bar none, so get those champagne bottles ready to celebrate this afternoon, tonight and for the next seven and a half years!

  • Comment number 25.

    There is something a little unseemly about this voting process - Princes, PMs and celebrities wining and dining FIFA executives who hold a degree of power totally out of kilter with their actual relevance to the game as a whole. Why are representatives of such "footballing heavyweights" as Thailand, Guatemala, Qatar, Cyprus etc given the responsibility for deciding wehre the greatest sport event in the world should take place? Is it any wonder alleged corruption occurs. Instead, every person who attends a professional game in any country in the world over a given time frame should be allocated a single vote - the country with the most votes wins. Let the fans decide and take power out of the hands of this self-appointed, self-important, self-ish elite.

  • Comment number 26.

    no offence:

    But


    Yawn.

  • Comment number 27.

    Isn't Terry Wogan in Zurich for the 'Bungfest' this year ??

  • Comment number 28.

    Trust the BBC to score an O.G. The Panorama program has lost us the nailed on votes of Amos Adamu and Reynald Temarii have been banned from voting in the 2018 venue vote. To add to this Jack Warner is now wavering. These three (five if JW speaks for Concaf) votes will cost us dear. Why couldn't Panorama throw up something on the Spain/Portugal FIFA supporters.

  • Comment number 29.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 30.

    King Wullie looks the part, but Daft Dave looks ill at ease in the company of so many 'yoiks'.

  • Comment number 31.

    Cheers, BBC and Panorama.

    Well done. You must be so proud.

  • Comment number 32.

    RUSSIA!

    Because they had the best bid for sure.

    Bring FIFA down, every single last executive member....

  • Comment number 33.

    hmmm... I wonder how many roubles in brown envelopes were exchanged at motorway service stations to secure that decision?

  • Comment number 34.

    So they scupper our World Cup bid then expect us to pay for their existence.

    Fu€k them.

    Boycott the licence fee over this highly unpatriotic organisation.

  • Comment number 35.

    BBC, Sunday Times, Mail on Sunday,

    Cheers guys

  • Comment number 36.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 37.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 38.

    Interesting to see the rogues gallery of rouble guzzlers behind David Dein and Prince Wills. How much FIFA, eh??

    This was sorted long before Panorama- it's Russia, they've bought it with menaces.

  • Comment number 39.

    Welcome to Qatar 2022 - Sharia Law, Slaves and Soccer!
    And put that pint away if you don't want your hands chopped off.

  • Comment number 40.

    Russia focused on the 22 that voted but England focused on presentations by princes and stars etc. It was so naive to think they should campaign like it's a popularity contest. It may work for the Olympics but with Fifa, you focus only on those that vote. And come to think of it, the English media took out 2 guys who were surely going to vote for England and then sullied the reputations of the guy that controls the African votes and then the guy that controls the CONCACAF votes - votes that seemed to be going England's way a few months ago. So may be Russia won because they knew emphasis had to be placed on those voting.

  • Comment number 41.

    I cannot imagine more that could have been done in Zurich by our bid team so thanks to Cameron , Beckham , Charlton , Prince William and all but ultimately the British Media and especially the BBC has helped scupper our chances combined with a stuttering campaign by the FA in the early days . I cannot imagine anyones bid being technically better than ours . FIFA has given the world cup to one of the most corrupt countries on the planet , the two kind of go hand in glove and after reading wikileaks today a country that has abandoned democracy . Smart move FIFA .

  • Comment number 42.

    We live in a blame culture, so here are my top 3:

    1) FIFAs voting process. Making MPs expenses look clean
    2) Brummies. Worst timing ever
    3) England Football Team. Hardly an example of footballing passion.

    I propose we disband the England team. Focus on the leagues and make a GB team for the Olympics.
    It will have the extra benefit of removing the need for The FA too!

  • Comment number 43.

    BBC. The Times

  • Comment number 44.

    The only people celebrating in the UK are the BBC. Spanners!

  • Comment number 45.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 46.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 47.

    Aha! It was!

  • Comment number 48.

    Look at the BBC moderation team BURST into action!

    Quite stunning.

  • Comment number 49.

    It was preordained hence why Panorama ran the programme. We did not have a cat in Hell's chance, even though post 2012 Olympics we would have had all the facilities. Russia run by the Mafia - say no more! Thought Prince William did a good job,at last a royal who loves football. Now we must get over it and win the damn thing, that will really annoy FIFA.

  • Comment number 50.

    #48 The moderation team are all based in Moscow;)

  • Comment number 51.

    We need to turn this negative result into positivity by putting all our energy into producing great players that will come together to win the World Cup.

    Winning the tournament is better than staging it.

  • Comment number 52.

    No one should be NAIVE. It was always a case of making the original 24 people that vote happy. But good old English media took out 2 and sullied the reputations of at least 8 of the remaining 22; 8 counting those associated with Warner and Hayatou. And these 8 were most probably going to vote for England. So rather than having lofty presentations by Princes and hollywood stars, England should have focused on those voting. Russians left the presentation to Arshavin (lol) - Roman didn't say a word and Putin was not even around but his plane was ready.

  • Comment number 53.

    Who cares anyway, we've got league games on saturday! Far more interesting and relevant to everyone's life.

    Maybe they'll have another revolution in Russia in the meantime and FIFA will come crawling on their overfed, over-entertained bellies. Yes Mr Blatter you may have a World Cup in England after all. we will charge you £xxxxbillions.

  • Comment number 54.

    To come last despite the technical quality of our bid shows just how corrupt the whole process is!

  • Comment number 55.

    Surely the time has come to replace secret ballots with Strictly Come Dancing style marks out of 10. We have the technical audit, the commercial audit and the pitch presentation. Tot the scores up and don't let the public vote.

    Good luck to Russia. And good luck to any Paul Scholes clone who thinks it's going to be fun playing in Qatar.

  • Comment number 56.

    "England will fight to the very last" - yeah, you finished last

  • Comment number 57.

    Whilst the Sunday Times, Daily Mail, and Panorama stories can't have helped, it's now clear that they can't be blamed for England not being chosen to host the World Cup. The results of the two ballots today shows that FIFA delegates see themselves as 'football missionaries', spreading the good word of football to the four corners of the earth. Their criteria was not about who would stage the BEST World Cup, but about which countries represented the biggest growth opportunities. Hence Russia and - unbelievably - Qatar, which will host the worst, most soulless World Cup possible. The Aussies must be gutted.

  • Comment number 58.

    You may have noticed FIFA's comment that the judgement in Switzerland in the ISL case which was a Swiss company found that no crime had been committed. That was because bribery of a foreign person outside Switzerland was not considered a criminal offence at the time they were alleged to have taken place. Today Switzerland's law has changed and such allegations would be considered criminal offences and would be investigated as such. It's now necessary to search other jurisdictions outside Switzerland,the EU and OECD countries and look in places where such activities are still common and an accepted part of business life.

  • Comment number 59.

    In 1966 I was 9. I remember the wonder of the World Cup via TV. History shows it to be an iconic moment in my life. I want the chance to experience this again live, for myself and my sons. The euphoria generated by winning this trophy on home soil is something that our government or indeed our press cannot even consider emulating. As an international businessman for most of my career I know that winning a ‘contract’ is so rarely down to simple tick boxes against requirement, more it is about relationships, interaction and understanding. Our bid was clearly challenged from the off and I have great respect for the final efforts albeit too late. However I will never hear the name Panorama without a knot tightening in my stomach, knowing that those ‘holier than me’ had the audacity and licence to possibly obliterate my goal.

  • Comment number 60.

    It makes me laugh how some people assume that just because it's England, it must automatically be the best bid on offer, and that the only reason England weren't awarded the hosting rights, must be due to some skulduggery from ''Johnny foreigner''.

    Maybe Russia won because they were the best bid ?

    Maybe some people think that England's bid was the best, because that is the only bid that we have comprehensive knowledge of ?

  • Comment number 61.

    Everyone is having a go at the Panorama programme dont they get it? It showed what works with FIFA and a future king, a prime minister and a world class footballer or two plus history and good faith dont cut it! The Wikileaks dispatches are showing in graphic detail where Russia is at ..they understand how it works and how to make offers that cant be refused and I bet the Qataris do too. Simples!

  • Comment number 62.

    Hard luck guys. Good technical bid but as I've said on these blogs before you had no USP and that was the killer blow.

    So you only got 2 votes: one of which was presumably your own FA.

    That means that even some of the home nations did not vote for you!

    Wonder who the other vote was from?

  • Comment number 63.

    David,

    Would you like to comment on how you and your BBC colleagues all fell for the hype about Putin not showing up in Zurich? It was a clear stunt that raised ridiculous hopes amongst the English media.

  • Comment number 64.

    I was asked earlier this week in Israel if we, England, stood any chance of winning the bid. I made it clear that we did not and explained why.

    I realise that many people out there (including the well-educated and unbias journalists involved in all the recent hype) are only just beginning to find out what FIFA is all about but it was never a secret. It is not a democratic and reasonably minded international organisation and for those who know their history it NEVER was. Even the wonderful Football Museum in Preston makes it clear that a lot of "shenanigans" were involved in the earlier tournaments and if you look at which countries participated then it was pretty inevitable that this would be the case. Choosing Qatar is almost amusing and there will be a lot of jokes about it until the tournament actually gets underway. I've played sports in Baghdad, Kuwait, Dubai, Jeddah and all over the Middle East and trying to do this in the summer months with high humidity is murder.

    We have all been wasting our time getting into a lather about this matter as nothing is going to change even with our press and media pointing out what is going on regardless of the timing. They have been doing this for years and Sepp Blatter and his cronies just keep on laughing at us all. I just cannot understand why anyone blames our media for telling the truth. If we are going gag them for the World Cup to keep Blatter happy then why not do it for everyone else as well and just not report anything bad about anyone else out there? We live in a corrupt world and all you have to do is to check out the list of the most corrupt nations via the internet to find out that one of them in particular is very near the top.

    Life is simple, people are not.

    Regards, Joe.

  • Comment number 65.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 66.

    @63:
    I think the reason Putin didnt bother coming is because he knew it was all in the bag 3 days ago and had no need to go and suck up.

  • Comment number 67.

    PS- your silence is deafening Mr Bond....

  • Comment number 68.

    I sometimes wonder if the general public look further then what is fed them. The BBC program was correct in showing what has been going on for years in football. The members interviewed by the BBC had an opportunity to prove they were above board with there dealings, they declined and infact one gentleman (and I use the word losely) was outright rude in his reply. I was very interested with what the Dutch had to say with reference to the overall cost to the country to hold a world cup and was most suprised at the losses incured, which would be met by the tax payer. Once again local business men were in favour of the world cup because of a sod you jack attitude. Lets get real England can not afford to hold a world cup so in a strange way FIFA done this country a big favour. Overall maybe FIFA should be disbanded and each country represents itself and the world cup is offered in alphabetical order, it must be a safer and fairer way to choose.

  • Comment number 69.

    Could someone please inform me if it is correct that it cost 50 million pound to put this bid together? Who paid for this? if it was me in a small way, why was I not asked? What expenses were incurred by the hanging on members (did we need uncle Tom Cobbly and all) they all seemed to be well looked after. And finally what an insult by David Beckham I quote '' They all worked very hard infact Prince William made breakfast'' woopy do I think the people who spend their lives really working hard have been shown just how they are thought of in this country, It will never change and maybe David should remember his roots in Leytonstone and just how lucky he was.

 

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