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Blatt the Bid

December 1st, 2010 by · No Comments · Features, Football

The England 2018 Bid may have its knockers but...

If the British press knows anything then they at least, at last, agree that they know nothing. Reading today’s papers and taking in the sports radio channels it seems that tomorrows bid will be decided by Mark Thompson, Jack Warner, Sepp Blatter, David Beckham, Vladimir Putin and/or History.

According to some of the phone-ins the BBC decision to broadcast the Panorama FIFA expose was deliberately timed to cause the most damage. Although the bid team was diplomatic in saying that they valued an open press Andy Anson, bid CEO, broke ranks and described it as ‘unpatriotic’.

One thing that can’t be denied is that the writer and reporter, Andrew Jennings, has a bit of previous with FIFA and the IOC. He runs a scurrilous website [http://transparencyinsport.org/] which features headlines such as ‘Blatter and the Serial Murderer’, describes the IOC president as a ‘die-hard Facist’ and talks about the FIFA executive committee as the ‘World Domination League’. It’s the sort of conspiracy theory journalism you’d expect from the Daily Mail or FoxNews.

Why Mark Thompson, who must have signed off the scheduling, is prepared to stake his reputation on such a loose canon is a mystery. Not that you’d hear anything close to that from BBC Radio FiveLive or the BBC News website. But a little bit further from home and you’ll see Thompson described as a ‘traitor’ and some even suggesting it’s petty revenge for the brutal cuts that Cameron has imposed on the BBC.

In today’s Guardian Jack Warner, a FIFA Vice-President, is described as ‘critical to England’s bid’. He is thought to hold the influence over 3 votes [of 22] that will represent the deciding votes in an entrenched committee. The press have it that the Spain/Portugal bid has 8 votes in the bag, Russia 7, England 5 and Holland/Belgium 2. Warner could make the difference so it’s a shame he was described as ‘mad and bad’ by the Panorama team.

That brings us to our next sphere of influence. If the voting goes as forecast then the last placed bid, Holland and Belgium, would be eliminated with the two votes up for grabs. The second round could then see Russia and England tied on 7 votes. In that scenario the President, Sepp Blatter of course, holds a casting vote. So, again, it’s a shame he’s been a target of the British media. The Andrew Jennings website shows him sitting on a toilet to illustrate alleged corruption during South Africa 2010.

Dubbed the “three lions” by Anson, Prince William, David Beckham and David Cameron are on a charm offensive to woo the undecided in the last hours before voting. The three of them seem to be all over Zurich: playing football with kids, dining with FIFA representatives, breakfasting with the press. In the words of sports minister Hugh Robertson, “Fifa people are saying to me: ‘England are everywhere.’” Good news? Maybe. Vladimir Putin’s shock announcement that he wouldn’t be travelling so the executive can ‘make a decision without any pressure from the outside’ may just turn out to be a masterstroke. In just one sentence he may have made the English energy and enthusiasm look like desperation – a gambit worthy of an ex-KBG chief.

And finally, history may play its part. All things being equal, and fair, the country that has never had the privilege of hosting the event should be the preferred bidder. By that measure the favourites, in order, would read Russia [never hosted a major tournament], Holland/Belgium [hosted Euro 2000], England [1966 and Euro 1996] and Spain/Portugal [1982 and Portugal Euro 2004]. The 2022 bid should therefore go to Australia or Qatar [instead of Japan, South Korea or USA].

The sum total of opinion is that, of all the influences on tomorrow’s bid, non favour England: Thompson and the BBC have done their damage, Beckham and his fellow ‘Lions’ have been undermined by Putin’s ruse, FIFA have never cared for history and fairness.

That leaves the Executive Committee. Despite the conciliatory noises from Sepp Blatter and Jack Warner, and the bid team announcing that the broadcast ‘should be seen as an embarrassment to the BBC’, these people have huge egos and long memories.

Get your hats cos we’re going to Russia.

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