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Where sport and politics meet

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James Pearce | 10:39 UK time, Wednesday, 1 December 2010

Zurich, Switzerland

Reporting on the 2018 and 2022 Fifa World Cup bids this week makes me feel a bit like Charlie in that chocolate factory. I love sport and am fascinated by politics. Add the two together, throw in a touch of royalty and you'll understand why I count myself as one of the holders of those golden tickets.

What sport and politics have in common is their unpredictability - and this sums up the drama of the World Cup bidding process. How about we put 22 powerful men in a room together and tell them to elect the nation which will host one of the world's biggest sporting events - a competition likely to generate billions of pounds. I guarantee intrigue, tension, excitement and, yes, plenty of drama.

Ten years ago, I was here in Zurich to report on the 2006 bidding decision. I had covered much of the final month of that campaign, making a film for Newsnight on the closing stages of England's doomed bid. Wherever I travelled and whomever I spoke to, I was told that South Africa had it in the bag. "Sepp Blatter (Fifa president) wants South Africa to win," they all said, "and Sepp Blatter gets what he wants."

In those days I was probably a little more gullible but I happily went along with the popular opinion. Then, late at night on the eve of the vote, it all changed. I was wandering down a corridor of the hotel where the voters were staying when I bumped into one of my best Fifa contacts. Everything had changed he told me. The four Asian members of the executive committee were angry with Blatter about the amount of slots their countries were being given at the next World Cup. They had told him they were switching their support from South Africa to Germany in protest. In one evening, the pendulum had swung away from South Africa. The next day, Germany, with the extra help of Charles Dempsey's failure to vote, went on to win the right to host the 2006 event.

It was a major upset. I can still recall the pained expression on the face of Danny Jordaan, the South African bid leader, as Blatter opened the envelope and announced Germany as the winner. For two years, he had believed that he was about to bring the World Cup to South Africa. That honour had been taken away from him by politics which were ultimately out of his control. He eventually got his reward, of course, four years later but I know that he will never forget that day of defeat in Zurich in 2000.

Prince William, David Cameron and David Beckham meet in Zurich

Prince William, David Cameron and David Beckham hope to impress delegates in Zurich. Photo: Getty

Fast forward five years to Singapore in 2005. Paris was the red-hot favourite to win the right to host the 2012 Summer Olympics. It would take a whole separate blog post to explain the reasons why they blew it - and it has been well written before - but once again we lovers of sports politics were treated to a week of unforgettable drama.

What Fifa and the International Olympic Committee have in common are small electorates. It is usually 24 voting members for Fifa and around 115 for the IOC. What this means is that a few successful face-to-face meetings in the frantic last hours of a campaign can make all the difference. One vote lost here or gained there can be all that separates victory from defeat. London beat Paris by 54 votes to 50. If two people had changed their minds, it could all have been so different.

No wonder that the lobbies of the relevant hotels are packed until the last drink is served on the night before a vote. In sports elections like this, every single vote really does count. If Tony Blair had gone to bed an hour earlier on the night before the vote in Singapore and missed the opportunity to see three or four more IOC members, then we might well be talking now about Paris 2012 and not London 2012.

On Thursday, the host nations for two World Cups will be decided and I can honestly say that nobody can really be sure who is going to win. The Baur au Lac Hotel is where it will all be decided. That is the five-star venue where the Fifa voters are staying. It is where the wheeler dealing is taking place. If this was an important political contest, rather than a sporting political one, then you would not be able to get close to the action.

Imagine being inside Downing Street the night before Margaret Thatcher decided that she had to step down as prime minister, having been told that she was in danger of being beaten by Michael Heseltine. Of course, it could never happen. That type of history is made behind closed doors.

Not here. The hotel's concierge politely held open the door for me as I walked inside. I turned to the left and headed into the lobby. There was Andy Anson, the head of the England bid, leaning over a shelf as he held talks with Jack Warner - the man from Trinidad whose support England simply must have if they are to have any chance of winning.

It was all happening right in front of me. The negotiations that could ultimately determine the outcome of the contest. David Cameron then marched past, flanked by the usual security. He had been meeting another Fifa voter in a room upstairs. Everybody looked towards him. What could we read into his face? Who had he been meeting? How had it gone? You will not be surprised to hear that the prime minister gave nothing away. But that did not stop everybody else in the hotel lobby entering yet another round of speculation about what would happen on Thursday.

In many ways, sports politics is a cruel business. I am just an observer but many of those I am watching have dedicated the last two years of their lives to this process. They now have to plead face to face, in front of a gallery of spectators, for the votes that would make all that hard work worthwhile.

The vote is going to be close on Thursday. If the England bid team ends up being unsuccessful, nobody will be able to accuse them of not working hard enough.

Comments

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  • 1. At 12:02pm on 01 Dec 2010, tony wrote:

    Politics is about Power and Money, natural bedfellows with this type of Sport. See also Olympics, Motorsport ......

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  • 2. At 12:08pm on 01 Dec 2010, G-Dog_Hammers_fan wrote:

    Please vote on whether Panorama were right to broadcast the FIFA documentary on Monday 29th Nov.

    http://www.pollpub.com/were-the-bbc-right-in-broadcasting-their-panorama-documentary-about-fifa-corruption-on-monday-2.aspx

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  • 3. At 12:28pm on 01 Dec 2010, Jesus the Teddy Bear wrote:

    Well thats that then, if the Times and the BBC didnt kill our bid off, "Call me Dave" is sure too.

    england 2030 anyone ?

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  • 4. At 12:34pm on 01 Dec 2010, Tony Torrance wrote:

    Is it correct that the current Prime Minister is wasting him time at this event when he should be running the affairs of the United Kingdom.

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  • 5. At 12:46pm on 01 Dec 2010, ReclaimTheGame wrote:

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the House Rules.

  • 6. At 12:52pm on 01 Dec 2010, Macca wrote:

    As commented on a different blog...

    The Prime Minister should not be involved in a non political exercise to win a bid for a sporting event. I know this is nothing new and politicians were actively supporting and working on the Olympic bid also.

    I would like to know why PM is spending time effort (at cost to the taxpayer) to secure this bid whilst the coalition has just cut the sporting budget for schools. Surely the way to encourage and generate a new generation of sporting heroes is to provide more opportunity for the kids out there. Not just one sport but in a range of them.

    The FA should be the only people tending and involved in providing the bid for FIFA World Cups, just as UK Athletics should be the only ones involved in providing the bid for the Olympics.

    Politicians should focus on the running the country.

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  • 7. At 12:54pm on 01 Dec 2010, AndyPlowright wrote:

    "What sport and politics have in common is their unpredictability and this sums up the drama of the World Cup bidding process."

    Wrong. What sport and politics have in common is their ability to suck up to the other when it's advantageous to do so.

    England's cricketers in the past were left hanging out to dry by the then Government's cowardice in not applying a ban on playing within Zimbabwe. Australia's ruling party applied a ban but ours did nothing.

    FIFA are threatening Ghana with sanctions:

    http://news.bbc.co.uk/sport1/hi/football/africa/9243619.stm

    "Under Fifa rules, national football associations must not be subject to government control."

    Yet according to the BBC Panorama report, FIFA demand specific legislation to be introduced for a successful World Cup bid over matters like tax and commercial rights. In FIFA's eyes, it is bad for politicians to get involved in football, but totally acceptable for an undemocratic organisation like FIFA to get involved in the laws of a country!

    I have no desire for the World Cup to be held here. It will not make this country a mass of money and could well turn out to be a financial loss for us.

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  • 8. At 12:56pm on 01 Dec 2010, tony wrote:

    I see that David Beckham is on the team. If it fails I expect he will say that he was actually carrying an injury.

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  • 9. At 1:10pm on 01 Dec 2010, magicDarkshadow wrote:

    Is it correct that the current Prime Minister is wasting him time at this event when he should be running the affairs of the United Kingdom.

    -------------------------------------------------------------------------

    In regard to this comment. Cameron is between a rock and a hard place. The same critics having a moan that he's out there lobbying, would be the first to complain if he wasn't. The comments would simply change to "Cameron and government don't care about football". Or "If it was a posh sport he'd be there". Then there will comments about how much money the World cup brings in and how foolish of him not to meet FIFA when there's so much riding on it etc.

    Personally I'm glad he's out there. If we really want this World cup we should have our PM out there charming (sucking up) to the bigwigs. Although they don't care who Cameron is per se, its being seen and photographed with the UK Prime Minister that some of FIFA's bigwigs want for their own vanity.

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  • 10. At 1:25pm on 01 Dec 2010, rl wrote:

    http://news.bbc.co.uk/sport1/hi/other_sports/olympics_2012/4657071.stm

    Reading that it appears Cameron isn't wasting anyone's time being out there bar the people here who don't want England to host the world cup. Like it or not, the big politicians do make the difference.
    Well said magicDarkshadow

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  • 11. At 1:40pm on 01 Dec 2010, Looking forwad to Yeovil away Blade wrote:

    Why is everyone complaining about Cameron being there? magicdarkshadow summed it up well. What do you expect to be doing, shoveling your snow off your pavement?

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  • 12. At 1:44pm on 01 Dec 2010, Big_Donga wrote:

    6. At 12:52pm on 01 Dec 2010, strcprstskrzkrk wrote:
    I would like to know why PM is spending time effort (at cost to the taxpayer)...

    How very shortsighted of you! Have you not thought how many billions of pounds this event would bring to the UK, in taxes, as well as the obvious profits for all UK businesses?

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  • 13. At 1:44pm on 01 Dec 2010, tony wrote:

    No snow shovelling - health and safety!

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  • 14. At 1:48pm on 01 Dec 2010, Yorkieyra wrote:

    Why did France not win the right to host the Olympics?

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  • 15. At 1:52pm on 01 Dec 2010, tony wrote:

    US memos portray the president (Sarkozy) as undiplomatic and sometimes uncouth and in need of careful handling.

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  • 16. At 2:39pm on 01 Dec 2010, Vox Populi wrote:

    4. At 12:34pm on 01 Dec 2010, Tony Torrance wrote:
    Is it correct that the current Prime Minister is wasting him time at this event when he should be running the affairs of the United Kingdom
    ---------------------------------------------------------------------

    Hosting a World Cup event will bring revenue, tourists and jobs to this country and give the sports/football-loving public (British, not just English) a chance to see a World Cup here for the first time since 1966.

    This is an important affair for the UK!

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  • 17. At 2:39pm on 01 Dec 2010, hackerjack wrote:

    Is it correct that the current Prime Minister is wasting him time at this event when he should be running the affairs of the United Kingdom.

    -------------------------------------------------------------------------

    I'm not a Cameron fan, but he is out there trying to help us win a bid that could bring BILLIONS of pounds to the UK economy over the next 8 years, create hundreds of jobs and give a reason for foreign companies to invest in the country.

    I'd say that it's a very good use of a couple of days of his time.

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  • 18. At 2:44pm on 01 Dec 2010, Graham wrote:

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the House Rules.

  • 19. At 2:56pm on 01 Dec 2010, Kapnag wrote:

    #6 how much money do you think a World cup would be worth to the country? That's why he's behind it. That's all the world cup is about now, nothing to do with the football!

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  • 20. At 2:58pm on 01 Dec 2010, chris brown wrote:

    Of course our PM should be out there backing the bid, we have already invested about £50 million in it so we need to do all we can to actually win the bid.

    Sport and politics also share the same issue. That is the majority people at the very top end of the FA and FIFA etc have no real football experince (bar Platini) and are generally clueless about what real fans want and the game itself from grass roots to the top level. This is simialr with politcians in Government, they are generally clueless about real life and are a cut off from reality.

    So FIFA suits and Governments have plenty in common.

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  • 21. At 3:21pm on 01 Dec 2010, RantingMrP wrote:

    FIFA is rotten to the core, and it is about time someone stood up and stated the obvious. Panorama's producers and investigators deserve medals. It's a shame, though, that Panorama did not include Mr Blatter in their investigations - now THAT would have made for interesting viewing!

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  • 22. At 3:37pm on 01 Dec 2010, Teamtalker wrote:

    Perversely could the Panorama doc work in Englands favour? Might those accused of corruption might vote for England to prove they are not corrupt?

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  • 23. At 3:52pm on 01 Dec 2010, Alliterative hornet wrote:

    "Of course our PM should be out there backing the bid, we have already invested about £50 million in it so we need to do all we can to actually win the bid."

    I don't think 'we' (the British taxpayer) have spent £50m on it.
    My understanding is that the FA and the corporate sponsors of the bid who've been bank-rolling it.
    Given that, according to Panorama, Netherlands-Belgium bid was costed to lose money, I wonder if a business case can be made for the English bid.
    Whilst I'd be happy if England won, I wouldn't be particularly bothered if they didn't and I don't think David Cameron should be spending so much of his time in Zurich.

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  • 24. At 4:18pm on 01 Dec 2010, tony wrote:

    It is by mixing with the likes of Will and David that Cameron will enhance his street cred. They really are 'one of us'.

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  • 25. At 4:26pm on 01 Dec 2010, excellentcatblogger wrote:

    23. At 3:52pm on 01 Dec 2010, Alliterative hornet wrote:
    "Of course our PM should be out there backing the bid, we have already invested about £50 million in it so we need to do all we can to actually win the bid."

    I don't think 'we' (the British taxpayer) have spent £50m on it.
    My understanding is that the FA and the corporate sponsors of the bid who've been bank-rolling it.
    Given that, according to Panorama, Netherlands-Belgium bid was costed to lose money, I wonder if a business case can be made for the English bid.
    Whilst I'd be happy if England won, I wouldn't be particularly bothered if they didn't and I don't think David Cameron should be spending so much of his time in Zurich.

    ===========================================================

    Good point: has the England bid been fully costed? The thing is we think that our infrastructure is OK but when FIFA take charge in the build up (as Brazil has found out to its chagrin) what they ask for they used to getting. FIFA really like brand new stadia and refurbishing an old stadium is a bit of a drag. The fact is that FIFA likes spending other countries monies regardless of whenther that country can afford it.

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  • 26. At 4:34pm on 01 Dec 2010, JoC wrote:

    Interesting piece James. I'm curious as to how much you and your fellow journalists have invested emotionally in following the bidding process through from beginning to end? Will you be - using a footballing term - gutted like Danny Jordan was back in 2000, if England too misses out...not surprised or even angry at how it's all been run? Is there a friendly rivalry between you and the other bidding nations' media, who do the neutrals back and what is their general feeling about how the Beeb acted with the Panorama programme? Are they behind the investigative approach or do they think it was unbelievably stupid timing on behalf of a bidding nation?

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  • 27. At 4:51pm on 01 Dec 2010, SportsFan wrote:

    Sport and politics never work together

    Now only under 24hrs left till we find out who will host both 2018 and 2022 World Cup

    England should win the bid to host 2018 World Cup

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  • 28. At 5:15pm on 01 Dec 2010, rjaggar wrote:

    One thing I suspect that will become immeasurably more complicated in years to come will be the issue of climate in June/July.

    To me, there is a real issue that due to the domination of the European calendar for club football, many places that might like to host a World Cup will be difficult sells due to the sheer heat at that time of year.

    Let's see a few examples:

    Now let's suppose you really wanted to promote peace in the Middle East and had this totally mad idea of a joint Iraq-Iran bid for the World Cup. I just don't see how you could do that without having it at a different time of year. Do you think multimillionaire rich boys would say: 'hey, this is important enough for us to change our whole calendar for one seasond to promote something really important?'

    You could say a similar thing about, say, Morocco and Algeria; Nigeria and Ghana; Thailand and Vietnam. Those are just geographical examples, not case studies or political points being made.......

    What about China or India? What time of year would make a great world cup in China? I doubt it would be June, but I might be wrong.......

    Sure, the politics of a decision under the current rules are perhaps thrillingly opaque, but I suspect the time is fast coming when people will want to sit down, have a really fundamental chat about what they really want football to achieve in the 21st century and what that might mean about the way the whole world game is organised, governed and marketed.....

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  • 29. At 5:17pm on 01 Dec 2010, Idioterna wrote:

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the House Rules.

  • 30. At 5:24pm on 01 Dec 2010, RSOLE wrote:

    " when sport meets Politics "

    It all ready has !!! along with all the hype and spin that has been associated with MPS.

    clearly a disaster to me Cameron would be better serving the problems we have here as opposed to PHOTO OPOORTUNITIES! the guy is a complete SHAM! he was at the election and is now along with his hoppo Clegg.

    keep Politics and Politicians OUT OF SPORT!

    specially these Tory toffs Cameron,the prince and that other ego beckam

    i hope Russia gets it!

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  • 31. At 5:29pm on 01 Dec 2010, RSOLE wrote:

    England has no god given right to host this WC just like they have no given right or chance of winning it! no matter where they hold it.

    the spin doctors can try as hard as they like but lets remind ourselves the reputation of England is both tarnished and damaged not just in Football but in the wider world.

    Cameron and the boony prince along with " erm duh " beckham reveal we have not progressed at all and in the worlds eyes are pretty useless now at most things. as Napoleon said all those centrys ago........


    the english? who are they? ohhh yes a nation of shopkeepers

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  • 32. At 5:34pm on 01 Dec 2010, RSOLE wrote:

    this country is as crooked and corrupt as the old soviet regime but hey dont tell everyone. and no ammount of Beckhams, mccartnys and presentations will convince the wider world otherwise.

    This nation is bankrupt and bereft of any ideas that the wider world wants to take any notice of. or take seriously at all.

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  • 33. At 5:39pm on 01 Dec 2010, RSOLE wrote:

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the House Rules.

  • 34. At 5:45pm on 01 Dec 2010, RSOLE wrote:

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the House Rules.

  • 35. At 5:47pm on 01 Dec 2010, rl wrote:

    HAHA CharadeYouAre,

    What do you want to happen then? Do you just want 20 nobodys in suits from the FA to turn up and deliver a characterless, uninspiring presentation?
    It's not just you in this country, I think you'll find most people do want England to host it, and as much effort as possible has been done to try and get the World Cup here.
    And I'm not quite sure what you're getting at with your "nation of shopkeepers" comment...

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  • 36. At 5:58pm on 01 Dec 2010, RSOLE wrote:

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the House Rules.

  • 37. At 6:08pm on 01 Dec 2010, rl wrote:

    HAHA CharadeYouAre,

    I'm a football fan and I know I would like nothing more than to see the World Cup in my country, and while I accept there may be sceptics I think this country has enough genuine football fans who would love to see it here for me to justify saying "most" of the English public want it here. I wasn't commenting on what people in other country's think as I have no idea. But at the end of the day (sadly I must admit), the only people whose opinions matter are those 24 or so FIFA committee members

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  • 38. At 6:08pm on 01 Dec 2010, RSOLE wrote:

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the House Rules.

  • 39. At 6:31pm on 01 Dec 2010, Mr Chelsea wrote:

    I see this "Charade you are" chap is posting another one of his long dissertations which make no sense what so ever hence the removal of them. LOL

    Give up!!!

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  • 40. At 6:34pm on 01 Dec 2010, Mr Chelsea wrote:

    I tell you what I find funny, is the sucking up, Cameron, Prince Willy & Beckham are doing to the CONCACAF guys.

    Im sure they're smart enough to see through the fake praising/smiles of the England team and vote for Spain/Portugal or Russia instead.

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  • 41. At 6:38pm on 01 Dec 2010, kicboy wrote:

    Just heard a very confident Russian delegate on talkSPORT. With Putin not travelling, do they know something we do not? And what about Michael Emenalo's rise to power in London? It seems that Russian assets are well placed to capitalise, perhaps..?

    Jack Warner, Hayatou, Chuck Blazer, Emenalo.....

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  • 42. At 6:56pm on 01 Dec 2010, Copperconk wrote:

    Interesting that Putin is not travelling to back his countries bid.

    Interesting (not covered by the British Media yet) is that Putin has pulled out because he no longer supports the Russian bid and they are in turmoil because of this.



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  • 43. At 7:04pm on 01 Dec 2010, Cheshire Indian wrote:

    There is no reason why politicians shouldn't get involved in the bidding for sporting events. Granted FIFA and the IOC ensure that neither they nor the athletes get taxed on any income gained but the benefits overall are enormous.

    Hundreds of thousands of visitors spending multiple nights in Britain equals to plenty of income for tourism, hospitality and retail businesses across the country. When you take into account the 2.5% VAT on these transaction you are talking about hundreds of millions of £s of tax related income.

    Not to mention the many new jobs created which also equals to higher income tax collections and lower benefit pay-outs. In addition there are the expected infrastructure upgrades which after the month long sporting event finishes are there for the benefit of all the residents.

    And of course this also creates various intangible business opportunities which can be conducted to coincide with the World Cup. Trade bodies can organise seminars and expos to ensure that people coming from around the world can combine a bit of business with pleasure.

    Not quite sure who will end up winning but the P.R. bombardment created by potentially the three most famous Englishmen at the moment will definitely not hurt.

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  • 44. At 7:14pm on 01 Dec 2010, tony wrote:

    We don't give money for votes. 'Trade agreement anyone?'

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  • 45. At 7:21pm on 01 Dec 2010, Lewis Standing wrote:

    RE; 21. Well said sir, did anyone see the sheer volume of criticism the BBC received about its' panorama programme? (on its own HYS). It was shocking. How is it in the public interest to investigate corruption in a corporation such as FIFA when its about to decide our fate the crowds yelled. How do you reply to that? FIFA members decide which country gets the opportunity to host the world cup, gain enjoyment plus a lot of financial opportunities, and there are questions about whether they accept/give bribes or sell tickets on the black market.

    Now who would on earth would want to know the truth? Who would want the up coming vote scrutinized to ensure its legitimacy? Not the british public apparently.

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  • 46. At 7:54pm on 01 Dec 2010, cypresrhicin wrote:

    The UK media has attacked FIFA committee members. Currently the country can't win the right to host the World Cup.

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  • 47. At 8:37pm on 01 Dec 2010, Juicys78 wrote:

    Haha Charade you are...I love how you backed up your comments by quoting Napolean...that fat fool managed to loose to the useless English at Waterloo and Trafalger...please if you are French, please can you confirm what you guys bring to the world apart from strikes, bad breath and cars with poor electrics

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  • 48. At 8:41pm on 01 Dec 2010, Juicys78 wrote:

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the House Rules.

  • 49. At 8:47pm on 01 Dec 2010, Juicys78 wrote:

    Last point, Cameron should not be bashed for going out there and helping with our bid....it makes logical sense, we are country of poor weather, with history to provide our tourism....can you imagine the amounts of money this will generate and help with our profile.

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  • 50. At 9:08pm on 01 Dec 2010, Deep-heat wrote:

    #7, AndyPlowright - interesting post. Good to see you're prepared to slum it on the football blogs as well as the cricket. Disagree though, with the suggestion that if we were to host the WC we could turn a loss. For various reasons (which are too boring to write about now) I think that's unlikely.

    Your comment about FIFA's willingness to use politics when it suits them however, is very relevant. Further to the example you have offered there is a very interesting revelation in todays Guardian that FIFA have insisted that the host nation will suspend all regulations relating to foreign exchange for themselves and an unspecified number of special people to be named at a later date. These regulations are in place to prevent money laundering by criminals, among other illegal activities. The IOC have not requested any such exemption for the 2012 Olympics.

    Are FIFA officials that special? Are they above the law? Does FIFA's charitable status warrant such massive leeway on the part of a government?

    I desperately want a WC in this country, but only on legal, reasonable terms. Increasingly it is becoming apparent that FIFA are only prepared to dance to their own tune and expect everybody to step into line. They are not the kind of people that I would like to get into bed with, and I feel slightly embarrassed at the fawning, almost grovelling approach that our Prime Minister, our Royalty and our 'national icons' are taking.

    Two outcomes would make me happy:

    1 - We simply state now - before the vote - that we don'[t want to play this game, with these people, any more and step out of the process all together, integrity relatively intact.

    2 - We win the WC but refuse to bend our laws or our principles (such as they are) at the whim of Blatter et al.

    The first scenario will obvously not happen. The second is a distant possibility. I think I'd probably rather this all simply went away.

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  • 51. At 9:21pm on 01 Dec 2010, RSOLE wrote:

    At 8:37pm on 01 Dec 2010, Juicys78 wrote:


    -------------------

    irrespective of the defeat of napoleon Politicians should keep well away from sport particulary smarmy lying toads such as cameron and his cronies let them make a hash of running the country english foorball is already in dire straits we dont need or require them to add to its plight on the world stage. tell me who in the world takes this country seriously anymore? cameron knows it to him its nothing more than a PR excersise which of course will back fire and rightly so, the guy has nothing to offer england and has nothing to offer the world at large.

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  • 52. At 10:20pm on 01 Dec 2010, David wrote:

    As much as I dislike our PM, he is right to go to Zurich. Yes, Cameron, Wales and Beckham will flatter many egos, but the more serious minded voters will realise that political commitment will assist in the smooth running of the tournament. Blair's appearance in Singapore helped convince delegates that infrastructure developments could be delivered for the Olympics. The economic benefits of hosting a World Cup are blindingly obvious. My biggest worry is that there will be a comfort feeling that England will always be a fallback option if a more risky host nation finds that it cannot deliver. After all, with our stadia, we would be able to host a world cup at short notice.

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  • 53. At 11:11pm on 01 Dec 2010, goonergetit wrote:

    Western ideology, eastern religon, colonialism, capitalism, communism, means the choice is one that could possibly be very strongly influenced by powerful western governments and their choice would be a world cup staged in Russia.

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  • 54. At 01:00am on 02 Dec 2010, bounce bounce bounce wrote:

    2018 - England
    2022 - Australia

    It must NOT go to USA.

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  • 55. At 01:07am on 02 Dec 2010, dna1000 wrote:

    Nice to see Russia have pulled out.

    Putin hasn't travelled because he has sufficient reason to believe he wont win and is too embarrassed to be present and lose.

    I wonder if Panorama have actually done the England bid a massive favour!

    Could the England bid team be doing so much to rectify the damage done that these last days of grovelling will actually win them the bid....?

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  • 56. At 03:54am on 02 Dec 2010, WHL_N17 wrote:

    James writes "If the England bid team ends up being unsuccessful, nobody will be able to accuse them of not working hard enough".
    True - but they will be able to accuse your paymasters with wrecking the bid, thanks to their intransigence at airing Panorama just three days before the vote.

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  • 57. At 06:37am on 02 Dec 2010, MarktheHorn wrote:

    Lets just hope the FIFA delugation decided on the winner bid didn't see the disgraceful sences from St Andeews last night otherwise they'll probably think "English fans causing trouble againn"!? and look to vote elsewhere although Russian supporters aren't any better with their racist chanting at times.

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  • 58. At 06:40am on 02 Dec 2010, Cheshire Indian wrote:

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the House Rules.

  • 59. At 07:00am on 02 Dec 2010, Chris wrote:

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the House Rules.

  • 60. At 07:20am on 02 Dec 2010, Chris wrote:

    I am more interested in a fair and democratic vote to decide who hosts any future world cup and not the issues raised by the recent panarama programme which have been well documented for many years now. It seems our bid team have no shame in their attempts to win the bid.

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  • 61. At 07:24am on 02 Dec 2010, The Futurista wrote:

    The 2 issues for me are - Legacy and Billions of money that WC is supposed to bring.

    1) Seb Coe says that English bid has the best Legacy, does it though? All stadiums are already built or 2/3 of them at least. All infrastructure is already in place, rather poor infrastructure - railways are prime example - but it's there. So the only legacy English bid has is spending billions on logistics, cutting school's sports budgets and then our generation of taxpayer being stuck paying for Olympics and World Cup (In Milton Keynes?). I love how the Olympics to be held in London, yet the whole of Britain will be paying for it.

    You lot are criticising the Russian bid, but they are already building 7 out of 16 stadiums regardless if they get the World Cup or not, they are already building the high speed rail network, new hotels, new airports, bus stations, roads. Modernisation of the whole country - that is legacy. The best of all their country CAN afford a world cup.

    2) Those who are claiming that World Cup is ever profitable for the country. Look at South Africa, now crippled for the next 20 years with World Cup debt. FIFA and FIFA partners don't pay any taxes, take all the profits from merchandise and ticket sales.

    As mentioned above the only people who ever make money from the World Cup are FIFA and their partners, not government.

    Our generation is expected to pay for all these pensioners who are refusing to die, Olympics, World Cup, whilst dealing with billions of government deficit, our kids aren't expected to outlive their parents meanwhile. Gotta love everyone throwing in the racist card on here about Russia. But gotta say that attitudes towards migrant workers from Eastern Europe here, is just as bad as it is towards Blacks in Eastern Europe. The subtle racism is a wide occurance in Britain. What is that they say about glass houses and stones?

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  • 62. At 08:22am on 02 Dec 2010, sledger10 wrote:

    I would be very surprised if England win this to be honest!
    We cannot even organise ourselves in adverse weather conditions and our transport system is in chaos.
    How will Britain even cope with the Olympics let alone the World Cup!
    Maybe Cameron would have been better advised to stay closer to home given the enormous problems we have here right now!
    The other thing is the COST of another major event which quite frankly we just don't have the money for.
    Or, has Cameron conveniently forgotten the misery he is putting this country through with his budget cuts?!

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  • 63. At 08:26am on 02 Dec 2010, sledger10 wrote:

    If England do win the 2018 World Cup bid the biggest hope for me is that Cameron will be long gone by then!
    The damage that his government are already doing to this country with their extreme budget cuts is utterly disgraceful!

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  • 64. At 08:59am on 02 Dec 2010, be the hokey wrote:

    not much chance I'm afraid - Russia are clear favourites with the bookies (even money) whilst England are almost 2-1.

    Qatar are odds-on for 2022.

    Link those 2 items as you will.

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  • 65. At 09:50am on 02 Dec 2010, Norman Conquest wrote:

    "There is not one negative about having a World Cup in our country," said David Beckham".

    Zat so Dave?

    There is at least one negative -- your ugly face Dave and that of your wife too.

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  • 66. At 10:01am on 02 Dec 2010, The Futurista wrote:

    "There is not one negative about having a World Cup in our country," said David Beckham".


    Is that why you are quotes as saying that you want to permanently relocate to LA? Is that why you don't live in the UK and pay the extortionate taxes?

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  • 67. At 1:07pm on 02 Dec 2010, Cape Town 2020 wrote:


    @ U14274116
    What's this about debt in South Africa? South Africa used revenues not debt to fund the World Cup, its stadia, buses, trains, roads, and other much needed infrastructure e.g. improved airports.

    Perhaps the concept of revenues is not that well known in countries with huge deficits and EU bail-outs.

    South Africa only spent about the cost of the entire Wembley on its new venues.

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  • 68. At 1:11pm on 02 Dec 2010, Joe wrote:

    Isn't it true that governments are not allowed by FIFA to interfere with the affairs of the football associations?

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  • 69. At 1:14pm on 02 Dec 2010, deebal wrote:

    Once upon a time, England had a bid! Then came the Times, followed by BBC....and England had no bid no more!!! Sorry Cameron, Beckham and the Prince...It's not Fifa's fault!

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  • 70. At 1:50pm on 02 Dec 2010, reggiefromruncorn wrote:

    I haven't had chance to watch the fun and games on TV.
    Who's introducing it - Sir Terry, Stuart Hall ?

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  • 71. At 5:37pm on 02 Dec 2010, mws257 wrote:

    Ok. Here goes ....and I'll probably be moderated off here too as I was yesterday.....But I will repeat exactly what I said yesterday....

    I believe then as I do now that England knew that they were not going to be successful, otherwise why drag into the arena our future king and our Prime Minister (who incidently should have been here with us sorting out our economic problems and seeking solutions to our youth unemployment and not on a jolly in Switzerland.)
    It's not rocket science if our bid was any good, that and that alone would have been the momemtum to drive it to success.
    What struck me a odd and over the top was the inclusion of a Royal and a Prime Minister that was already over stretched with a work load.
    And again as yesterday, I ask did anybody thank Panorama for exposing their finding towards FIFA? I think not....All I heard was this tripe about how it was to 'influence' the FIFA officials into not voting for our campaign. What utter tripe....They were never ever going to be influenced by such a show. Why would 19 officials be seen to support three questionable ones? They'd lose to much kudos and therefore it would never happen. I side with Lord Sugar on this point. There was nothing in the Panorama program to sway the officials off the bid presented by the UK.

    UK lost on the simplest of campaign mistakes.....OVERSELL!

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  • 72. At 3:11pm on 03 Dec 2010, kicboy wrote:

    2018 VOTING
    First round: England 2 votes (eliminated), Netherlands-Belgium 4; Spain-Portugal 7; Russia 9. (No absolute majority)

    Second round: Netherlands-Belgium 2; Spain-Portugal 7; Russia 13. (Russia obtain absolute majority)

    Who did Geoff Thompson vote for in R2? Has this been disclosed? If we assume the same 7 people voted for Spain in R1 & R2, Netherland-Belgium retained 2 votes in R2 from R1 and 2 tfrd to Russia...

    ...then does this mean that GT voted for Russia along with whoever else voted for UK in R1 (Hayatou? or Ogura? - tbc)?

    If that is the case then can we must assume that Geoff Thompson was offering a benevolent hand of peace to emulate his great leader and Nobel wannabee?

    This is all after the Lord Mayor's show, but England's bid was remarkeable and excellent in almost all ways except one. One of the campaign's messages was 'Football United'. Clearly, in England this is not the case. The briefest of input from Richard Scudamore was a good signal about the degree to which the FA and the Premier League are united.

    FOOTBALL UNITED..? Don't make me laugh...

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