BBC is 'unpatriotic' says England 2018 World Cup bid chief

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The Independent Online

England 2018 chief executive Andy Anson today accused the BBC of being "unpatriotic" and "sensationalist" by choosing to broadcast a Panorama expose of FIFA three days before the vote to decide the hosts of the 2018 World Cup.

The BBC plan to air the programme, which is expected to make allegations of corruption against people involved with world football's governing body, on November 29.

England's bid leader Anson last week met with BBC director general Mark Thompson to express his fear the broadcast could harm the country's hopes of winning the December 2 vote.

But his pleas fell on deaf ears, prompting him to publicly attack the organisation today.

"I'm incredibly disappointed with the timing of what the BBC is proposing with Panorama," he said.

"If they truly believe there's a journalistic reason for this, they could have done it any time in the last two years; to do it like this is sensationalism.

"I went to see Mark Thompson. I didn't ask him for anything but all I said was: 'Here are the potential implications'.

"It's not very patriotic of the BBC. They could have done it any time in the last two years or next two years."

Panorama have written to those they have made allegations against but Anson believes the expose will simply cover old ground.

He said: "We know what the letters all ask about.

"The issues seems to be things dealt with by the Swiss courts and by FIFA in the past.

"They're not happy with someone raking over old issues but, then, no one would be.

"Maybe we're overreacting. I'm hoping its an uninteresting and uninspiring programme."

Panorama's will be the second media investigation into FIFA in recent weeks after Sunday Times reporters posed as lobbyists for a consortium of American companies looking to bring the World Cup to the United States.

The newspaper allegedly exposed two officials it claims were willing to sell their votes.

That investigation is widely believed to have hurt England's bid to land the 2018 tournament, with some FIFA members unhappy with what they view as entrapment.

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