BBC BLOGS - David Bond

Archives for November 2010

England 2018 heavyweights enter the fray

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David Bond | 10:53 UK time, Tuesday, 30 November 2010

Zurich, Switzerland

British Prime Minister David Cameron will head straight from the airport to meet Fifa president Sepp Blatter at Fifa House when he arrives here on Tuesday morning.

The meeting is a clear sign that Cameron means business and will be followed by a series of key meetings with other members of the Fifa executive committee, which will decide on Thursday who hosts the 2018 World Cup.

At the same time, Prince William and David Beckham are also due to arrive in the Swiss city to lend their support to a campaign that believes it has been hurt by BBC Panorama revelations on four of the executives.

On Tuesday morning, the BBC's executive editor for current affairs, Clive Edwards, responded to claims from the England 2018 camp that the broadcaster should be "embarrassed" by the programme by revealing that the BBC had presented its evidence of a secret list of bribes paid to Fifa officials on 10 November.

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What do Panorama allegations mean for England?

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David Bond | 17:19 UK time, Monday, 29 November 2010

Zurich, Switzerland

For weeks now, England's World Cup bid leaders have been speaking with trepidation about the possible fallout from the BBC's Panorama investigation into Fifa.

On Monday morning, Culture Secretary Jeremy Hunt was at it again, tweeting that the bid team was "holding their breath for Panorama tonight".

But now that the main thrust of the programme has been aired on BBC News, just how significant will it turn out to be?

First of all, here is a summary of the central allegations from the programme by the investigative journalist Andrew Jennings.

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Fifa act tough - but what does that mean for England's 2018 bid?

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David Bond | 15:47 UK time, Thursday, 18 November 2010

Zurich

Fifa had to be seen to be taking tough action against the two executive committee members accused by the Sunday Times newspaper of offering their World Cup votes in return for money.

Fifa knew its reputation was on the line and, in delivering bans for Amos Adamu and Reynald Temarii, its ethics committee has shown it is prepared to act if members of the most exclusive football club in the world step out of line.

But its failure to investigate more thoroughly the claims of collusion between 2018 bidders Spain/Portugal and Qatar's bid for 2022 leave a lingering suspicion that this process still needs to be made more transparent.

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Do World Cup bid reports matter?

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David Bond | 10:11 UK time, Wednesday, 17 November 2010

The one real conclusion you can draw from the publication of the Fifa evaluation reports on the World Cup bidders for 2018 and 2022 is, well, that, there is no conclusion.

All that we will see are the executive summaries, which, in the most neutral Swiss technocratic language, assess how each of the nine bidders have fared in relation to Fifa's technical requirements.

It is understood a fuller report examining each of the bids across 17 different risk criteria will be sent to members of Fifa's executive committee before the votes on 2 December.

With all the bidders trying to spin their way through the last two weeks of this contest, it is not straightforward to work out who, if anyone, has come out on top. But, as far as 2018 is concerned, it is understood England has done at least as well as the Spain/Portugal bid and slightly better than Russia.

But we will never see the reports and, in publishing the bland summaries that offer only the level of legal risk to Fifa, world football's governing body has deliberately avoided any controversy over the evaluation process.

Yet there are criticisms.

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Loan repayments good news for Man Utd fans

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David Bond | 08:46 UK time, Tuesday, 16 November 2010

By paying off the controversial payment-in-kind (PIK) loans the Glazer family have potentially removed a debt time bomb which was ticking away under Old Trafford.

With total debts of £720m it was these loans - accruing a staggering 16.25% of interest each year - which have become the most potent symbol of the Glazer's leveraged regime.

Secured on the club but kept at arms length by the Americans' complex ownership structure, they were first taken out in 2005 from three hedge funds to help the Glazers purchase the club and, despite a partial refinancing a year later, have been sitting there ever since racking up hefty interest which would have to be repaid along with the original sum in 2017.

Then, from out of nowhere, came the news that the Glazers would be paying them off in full next Monday.

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Dein in talks with Blatter to boost England 2018 bid

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David Bond | 19:02 UK time, Thursday, 11 November 2010

England 2018 international president David Dein held a meeting with Fifa president Sepp Blatter and general secretary Jerome Valcke in Zurich on Wednesday in an attempt to boost the flagging World Cup campaign.

With England's team admitting they have been "significantly harmed" by a recent Sunday Times investigation into corruption in the bidding proces, Dein knows they face an uphill battle to win the vote on 2 December.

But the former Arsenal and FA vice chairman's audience with Blatter and Valcke offered England an invaluable opportunity to try to limit the damage caused by the newspaper expose and an upcoming investigation by the BBC's Panorama.

Will it be enough?

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How much does Haider really know?

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David Bond | 08:28 UK time, Thursday, 11 November 2010

It was a bizarre setting for an extremely unusual story - but what Zulqarnain Haider had to say was chilling.

In the back room of a curry house on the Broadway in Southall, west London, the 24-year-old wicketkeeper recounted what he had been told by a shady middleman in Dubai seeking to fix one-day matches:

"He said: 'If you work with us, we will give you a lot of money. If (not and) you go back home, we will kill you and your family'."

No wonder Haider looked drawn with bags under his eyes. Although he was dressed smartly with a dark winter coat and a scarf tied tightly around his neck, he cut a distant and isolated figure in a room packed tight with journalists and camera crews.

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Mystery continues in Haider affair

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David Bond | 15:10 UK time, Wednesday, 10 November 2010

After 24 hours of confusion the BBC now understands that the Pakistan wicketkeeper Zulqarnain Haider has claimed asylum in the UK.

He now has the right to stay here while his application is processed - something which could take up to six months.

It also became clear on Wednesday morning that investigators from the International Cricket Council's anti-corruption unit have interviewed Haider following his arrival in London on Monday.

My understanding is that the ICC investigators spoke to him at his hotel near Heathrow Airport late on Tuesday night.

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Pakistan cricket embroiled in fresh controversy

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David Bond | 22:54 UK time, Monday, 8 November 2010

The mystery surrounding Pakistan wicketkeeper Zulqarnain Haider's decision to flee his team's base in Dubai on Monday poses more questions than answers.

Why did he come to London without telling team officials? Why was Heathrow Airport his chosen destination? And what happened to him after he landed in the United Kingdom?

Was he running scared from a bookmaker who threatened him after he hit the winning runs in Friday's one-day international against South Africa?

Or was it no more than a flounce, a reaction to being fined for breaking a team curfew?

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England with it all to do

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David Bond | 12:47 UK time, Thursday, 4 November 2010

Four weeks from today, Fifa president Sepp Blatter will open an envelope in Zurich and reveal the name of the country chosen to host the World Cup in 2018.

Until the recent Sunday Times Insight investigation England might have fancied their chances of being the name inside that envelope. But the admission today from a senior member of the bid team that they have been "significantly harmed" by a backlash from Fifa reflects a growing sense of despondency at the FA.

Many people will be bemused and perhaps even angry that the media could influence the outcome of such an important election.

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