Blatter fails to allay English bid fears of a Fifa backlash

Click to follow
The Independent Football

Another day of mixed messages from Zurich left the race to host the 2018 World Cup still shrouded in mystery. England's bid was boosted by the full publication of Fifa's inspection reports, but Sepp Blatter's disclosure that not all the executive committee agreed with the decision to eject two of its members in the wake of the corruption allegations further raises fears that they could fall victim to a backlash.

England and the joint Spain/Portugal bid emerged best out of the intensely detailed 40-page reports – although the England one does include the perhaps telling line: "The English media plays an influential role in football." Russia's bid was dealt a blow by the report's findings that questioned their transport plans and the extensive building required to meet their stadiums schedule. The Russians have recently been regarded as the narrow favourites ahead of England and the Iberian bid.

But Blatter, in characteristic fashion, yesterday played down suggestions that the inspection reports could prove decisive. He said: "In principle, yes, otherwise it wouldn't be worth making a technical report if finally those who are going to vote are not using the information of such reports. But we are not only dealing with the World Cup institution, we are also dealing with human beings and they have ideas other than those which are available in the documents."

Blatter also admitted that Thursday's respective banning and suspension of Amos Adamu and Reynald Temarii did not go down well with the other members. "These decisions may not have found total support of all the members of the executive committee," said the Fifa president.

Blatter furthered the governing body's juggled attempts to act on the allegations made by the Sunday Times while at the same time condemning the newspaper's actions. "It gave us the opportunity to clean a little bit whatever has to be cleaned, but I cannot say it is very fair when you open traps for people," said Blatter. "It is not fair but, when the aims and objectives are to have a clean sheet in the football, then I can understand."

The least convincing action of the Ethics Committee was to find no evidence of collusion between 2018 and 2022 bidders looking to trade votes, and Blatter said that it was impossible to rule out, or prove. The 22 remaining executive members will vote in secret on 2 December to decide the winners.