Blatter killed England World Cup hopes, says man who led the bid

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The Independent Football

The chief executive of England's failed bid to host the 2018 World Cup said yesterday the process had become so preposterous that before long the world's most prestigious sports tournament would be held "in Antarctica with heated stadiums".

The remark by Andy Anson came after England received just two votes: one from Cameroon's Issa Hayatou and one from its own representative, Geoff Thompson, in the final decision in Zurich on Thursday. Russia won the right to host the competition.

President Barack Obama also accused Fifa of making "the wrong decision" when they overlooked the US to hand the 2022 tournament to Qatar, the tiny, oil-rich emirate which will stage games in 40C heat.

England, the US and Australia – which gained just one vote in the 2022 race – all gained the highest marks in the independent technical and economic reports commissioned by Fifa. However, Mr Anson pointed out that their late release, on the same day that Fifa's ethics committee reported on several high-profile corruption cases, proved they had little relevance to the vote. The bid officials leaving Zurich yesterday were abuzz with gossip about what had really persuaded Fifa to elect Russia and Qatar.

Mr Anson also revealed that the 22 voting members were told by the Fifa president, Sepp Blatter, in private minutes before their ballot not to forget "the evils of the British press".

He added that there was little point in England bidding again before Fifa reformed their voting process, in which huge power is concentrated in the hands of a small number of voters. The 2026 tournament is expected to go to China, with the next tournament England could realistically bid for being held in 2030. Asked whether he thought that England would bid again, Mr Anson said: "Not unless the process changes dramatically. I think the next one [sic] will be in Antarctica with heated stadiums and fan-free."

Mr Anson said he felt England had "wasted £3m on our bid book" – the mandatory inventory of stadiums and infrastructure that had already been built. Russia and Qatar's bids were based on planned stadiums.

He said: "It is so easy to do a presentation with [computer-generated] fly-throughs and say, 'We are going to move stadiums around the world'. That is not the reality. The reality is what is in the bid books and the [technical] evaluation seems to count for nothing.

"I don't think Fifa will consider changing [the voting process] and they are going to see this as England complaining; I am absolutely sure of that."

The bid team felt most betrayed by Jack Warner, who was said to have promised to deliver his vote and two more from Concacaf (North and Central America and the Caribbean) region, and by the South Korean billionaire Chung Moon Joon, with whom they had a deal for the 2022 race.

Mr Anson said some voters who had promised to support England had confronted him, angry about Fifa's treatment by the British press.

"I hope it is a convenient excuse and they just had other reasons for voting for Russia," he said.

"Because I really believe it's a crap excuse."