David Cameron deflects Panorama questions

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Prime Minister David Cameron deflected questions about the effect of the BBC's Panorama programme on England's 2018 World Cup bid ahead of a meeting with FIFA president Sepp Blatter.

Cameron flew into Zurich today and headed straight to FIFA headquarters to speak to Blatter, before starting a series of meetings with other FIFA executive committee members including Jack Warner ahead of Thursday's World Cup vote.

Panorama alleged three FIFA members had taken bribes in the 1990s, and that Warner had attempted to secure World Cup tickets to supply to touts.

Asked about the effect of the programme, Cameron said: "I've only got one focus here and that's trying to bring the World Cup home for England. That's going to be my focus, talking to the decision-makers and pressing them on the brilliance of English football and what we can bring for this bid. That's going to be my concern, nothing else.

"I think we have got a very strong team here - Prince William, David Beckham and myself and we are going to be making the arguments for England 2018.

"We think we have got an incredibly strong case, the best technical bid, and I think we can make the biggest commercial success of the World Cup."

The fallout from Panorama has continued to cause fears for England's bid after the International Olympic Committee today announced they would investigate allegations against FIFA vice-president Issa Hayatou.

The IOC said in a statement: "The IOC has taken note of the allegations made by BBC Panorama and will ask the programme makers to pass on any evidence they may have to the appropriate authorities. The IOC has a zero tolerance against corruption and will refer the matter to the IOC ethics commission."

Panorama has been branded "an embarrassment" by England 2018 bid leaders, who had high hopes of winning both Hayatou's and Warner's votes.

Warner brushed aside the Panorama programme telling Press Association Sport: "I really have no interest in this matter... now or ever."



Apart from African confederation president Hayatou, Panorama also accused his fellow FIFA executive members Brazil's Ricardo Terra Teixeira and Nicolas Leoz of Paraguay of taking bribes.

FIFA insisted the case had already been investigated in Switzerland by a criminal court in Zug.

FIFA said: "No FIFA officials were accused of any criminal offence in these proceedings. The investigation and the case are definitely closed."

There has been some good news for England's 2018 bid after they came out top of a FIFA study assessing the economic value of a World Cup in all bidding countries.

England's bid scored 100% across the board in five revenue areas: ticketing, TV and media rights, sponsorship, hospitality and merchandise/licensing - better than any of their 2018 rivals, Russia, Spain/Portugal and Belgium/Holland.

The report by management consultants McKinsey has been sent to all the 22-man FIFA executive committee who will vote on the 2018 and 2022 World Cup hosts on Thursday.

The McKinsey report, titled FIFA's World Cup Host Candidate Assessment, gave an overall rating to England of 100%, Spain 91%, Holland/Belgium 87% and Russia 86%.

Among the 2022 bidders, USA was 100% overall, Japan 73%, South Korea 71%, Qatar 70% and Australia 68%.

Meanwhile, Russia's FIFA executive committee member Vitaly Mutko today refused to confirm whether their prime minister, Vladimir Putin, would come to Zurich ahead of the vote.

Mutko told a news conference: "In terms of his arrival here in FIFA he will speak for himself, most probably tomorrow.

"The most direct support the bid has had is coming from Vladimir Putin - he is involved in our bid on a daily basis, even today this morning we have already discussed issues concerning our bid."

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