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Why a hung Parliament may be bad for 2018 bid

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David Bond | 12:00 UK time, Thursday, 22 April 2010

It's not just David Cameron who is concerned about the prospect of a hung Parliament.

The leaders of England's 2018 World Cup bid have also been watching anxiously as Nick Clegg has surged in the polls.

It's not that our bid leaders have anything against Mr Clegg or the Liberal Democrats. They are at pains to point out that they carry no torch for any party and, in fact, each of the three largest parties are supportive of the campaign in their manifestos.

It's just that a government based on no party having an overall majority after the General Election could make life difficult for England's chances in the other election - the battle to stage the World Cup in 2018.

Just to recap, Fifa will choose two World Cup hosts - one for 2018 and one for 2022 - from a field of England, Russia, Spain and Portugal, Holland and Belgium, USA, Australia, Qatar and Korea (the last two going only for 2022).

While rival bidders are already wheeling out their national leaders as ambassadors, using them to put their country's case, England's political heavyweights are being held back.

David Beckham and Wayne Rooney back England's bid to stage the 2018 World CupDavid Beckham (left, with Wayne Rooney) may head the delegation to hand over England's 2018 bid

Tony Blair's influence in helping London to win the bid to stage the Olympics in 2012 by pressing the IOC flesh in Singapore two days before the vote was crucial.

England would dearly love to pull off the same trick with whoever wins on 6 May but the possibility of a hung parliament and, who knows, another general election later in the year, is not helping as the FA takes soundings from the 24 Fifa members who will take the decision in December.

Russia's PM and President Vladimir Putin and Dmitry Medvedev have already held meetings with the Fifa president Sepp Blatter.

It's just one of the factors in England's current assessment that Russia are now favourites in the race for 2018 - in fact, England considers itself to be third behind Spain and Portugal.

This could, of course, be bid kidology. Playing the underdog is a smart move for a country associated with the arrogance of the bodged 2006 campaign.

But it is a sign of how seriously the Russians, who can call on billions of dollars of support, are being taken.

Earlier this week, the contest threatened to turn nasty when a website emerged making serious allegations about Russia's approach to bidding. Similar claims were also made about Qatar. I can't repeat them for legal reasons.

Both Russia and Qatar deny the allegations which were based on a supposed interview with the investigative journalist Andrew Jennings.

Jennings says the website is bogus and denies making the allegations. He has now written to the head of Fifa's ethics committee asking them to investigate. He believes a rival bidder created the website to smear Qatar and Russia.

Whatever the truth of all this, it shows the potential for dirty tricks in a race which is being fiercely contested.

England's challange is to stay above the fray and convince Fifa's members that the country is a safe bet, especially after the supposedly riskier destinations of South Africa this year and Brazil in 2014.

A key step on that road will be taken in three weeks time when the FA hands over the bid book containing promises on budget, security, stadiums, infrastructure, transport and so on.

Providing he is available, David Beckham is favourite to head up the delegation and hand over the bid to Blatter at Fifa house in Zurich on 14 May.

In the absence of any clear political winner on 6 May, Beckham's role in the bid may become more important than ever.


  • Comment number 1.

    clegg, brown an cameron all support the bid so why would we assume one is better than three or two

  • Comment number 2.

    Headline: You must vote for one of the two main parties or risk not getting the World Cup, with no gurantees that you will get it anyway! Is this a serious article?

    In the grand scheme of things there are a lot of other significant reasons to consider which party to vote for, 'main' parties or not, and inciting fear about a balanced parliament on this issue is hardly displaying impartiality during an election.

  • Comment number 3.

    I don't see this causing any problem. Besides FIFA has often criticised the English bid for excessive use of politicians. Its the careful use of its football celebrities that will be more important, PR showing both us in FIFA in good light.

  • Comment number 4.

    It's all so simple: all three parties get together and nominate the best ambassador, win or lose, no matter what, up to December 2010.

    There is absolutely no issue with this. So long as all parties agree to sign any pledges any administration needs to sign.

  • Comment number 5.

    How can Spain and Portugal be ahead of us in the race? I thought Blatter has always said that a twin host would only be accepted if there is not a single host that can host the World Cup. I think Russia can host it ok and England can easily host it. In all honestly we must be one of a very few countries that could probably host a World Cup with minimal notice. Just don't hope for a great pitch in the final. Sorry had to get that in.

    I really hope we do get the world cup for many reasons but if I list them it will sound like the arrogance that hurt us in the 2006 bid. :)

  • Comment number 6.

    Do the stadia already available or proposed matter?
    Does the infrastructure or budget really matter?

    ...Or is it like most big decisions made behind closed doors, dependent on how many wheels are greased and dodgy promises made?

  • Comment number 7.

    Because clear leadership is needed to drive the bid forward and ensure milestones are met and a hung parliament can't do this

  • Comment number 8.

    Utter nonsense.

  • Comment number 9.

    I think your assessment is complete cobblers!! Even if there is a hung Parliament the then PM will still go out and support the FA. If we do not get the 2018 World Cup it will be down to all the in fighting that has gone on in the FA and them not being professional enough as they keep chopping and changing people within the team. I mean they can't even keep hold of a Chief Executive for more than a year or two.

    The FA are full of the 'old boys club' and what they can get out of it. Surely they can see that the FA is actually a big business and should be run properly instead of too many committees meeting just for the sake of it.

    We should have the stadiums in place and hopefully a lot of other countries on board as I'm sure it will be the best supported place.

  • Comment number 10.

    It can't be a coincidence that ex-Torygraph journalist David Bond is churning out this biased tosh on the same day that all of the right-wing papers (including his former employers) have decided to attack the Liberal Democrats? Not to mention that the second leaders' debate happens to be taking place today.

    I'm very surprised and disappointed that the BBC has allowed this brazenly political article to slip through the net.

  • Comment number 11.

    You know what could be worse for our bid? May we present to you the potential location of the world cup final 2018/2022...Wembley!

    One russian/spanish/portugese compilation video of players slipping all over the shop in the domestic showpiece occasions, perhaps set to yakety sax, the benny hill music, and it'd be all over. Compared to that i doubt the political party in charge (or not) is going to matter one bit!

    And too right, can you imagine the world cup being decided with a slip a la Dawson in that 2nd fa cup semi-final? There'd be an outrage

  • Comment number 12.

    Is there anybody else who would rather see the World Cup played in Stadia and Countries that we do not see every weekend?

  • Comment number 13.

    David - with all due respect, neither Gordon Brown, David Cameron nor Nick Clegg are a Tony Blair -lets not get carried away here!
    Whilst there may be one amongst them able to run GB plc( I say 'may')for heaven's sake keep them away from the English World Cup bid -you need a non-political 'English Champion' to front the bid, surely?

  • Comment number 14.

    Hi David - have you any connection to Christina Odone - other than you both spout politically biased rubbish?

  • Comment number 15.

    A hung parliament will be great. Something needs to make the differing factions reason with each other. The less politicians involved the better.

  • Comment number 16.

    The Establishment's knickers must really be in a knot over the LibDem surge if this guff is being trotted out.

    Incidentally, this is a British election - I'm sure voters throughout the UK (and indeed England) will have more important considerations when casting their vote.

  • Comment number 17.

    What are the actual cost implications of hosting a World Cup nowadays? Will a home WC mean the average Jo like me will be able to see any games or will it cost an arm and a leg to get into one like the Olympics? It's cost the tax payer a fortune to pay for 2012 and we aren't even guaranteed preferential tickets.

    Wouldn't mind seeing the sport loving Aussies get it..nice weather, some new stadia, same language (near enough) - and it'll all be on down the pub into Super High Life-Like Holographic 3D Smellovision with Panaramic Sound anyway - especially by 2022 ;)

    Why make the decision so early...will we be penalised if the World changes too much in the meantime?

  • Comment number 18.

    I agree with the comments on impartiality, and also agree that the state of Wembley reduces them all to irrelevance.

    The rest of the article, on the dirty tricks that may or may not be taking place in the bidding war, was excellent, and I'd have liked to have seen the whole article musing about the bid process and what FIFA might be looking for, whether a 'safe pair of hands' is genuinely preferred or whether FIFA want to keep 'expanding the map' of WC hosts, etc etc.

  • Comment number 19.

    This is funny, Wembley hosting the World Cup Final ? Get real, it does not matter how many bigwigs talk up our bid, the events concerning that pitch torpedo any chances.

    Maybe we could put a bid in to stage ITV's Dancing on Ice final there instead ?

  • Comment number 20.

    What a load of tosh. Pathetic article trying to link 2018 bid to the election.

  • Comment number 21.

    Oh can I ask which election system does spain and portugal use then? PR list you say. What does this system usally lead to? Oh colaltions you say as part of a government. In such nearly all of the main bidders for 2018 apart from Russia (which i would losely class as a democracy) have mutiple parties as part of there government.

    In such i would not be suprised to see that the sports minster is from diffrent party than PM in spain and portugal.

  • Comment number 22.

    beckham for prime minister!

  • Comment number 23.

    What a load of politically-biased drivel.

    In an election campaign the BBC are effectively saying "don't vote for Clegg or you won't get the World Cup". Absolutely disgraceful. Did you think you could get away with it because it is a "sport" blog rather than a "politics" blog?

    England won't win the world cup bid regardless of what we do- it will go to Russia and Qatar- because we don't have the money to influence the right people.

  • Comment number 24.

    as others have said, this blog seems to be a pathetic attempt by someone trying to use the world cup bid to score political party points. Mr Bond, are you connected to any party in particular? Also amazed that the BBC let this blog get through. a response to the comments on here would be nice. Mr Bond any chance of a response?

  • Comment number 25.

    forgot to ask. Whcih leaders of the world cup bid have expressed their concerns to you? Any chance you could name any of them?

  • Comment number 26.

    In the event of a hung parliament how about Beckham as PM? Solve two problems at one stroke.

  • Comment number 27.


    By the way I want to add the BBC were very wrong to allow this sneaky piece of partisan nonsense to be posted by the former sports editor of the Daily Telegraph in the run up to a General Election. I smell a stinking rat.

    Many of the best governed countries in the world are run via coalitions, it doesn't prevent them having PMs/Presidents to help put the case for hosting a sporting event. In fact coalitions tend to greatly help long-term planning; look how successful Germany is at this. Plus we have a head of state, the Princes, Beckham etc.

  • Comment number 28.

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


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