England fear foul play after World Cup humiliation

Anson accuses Fifa voters of lying to bid team after Russia win right to host 2018 tournament

The English team for the bid to host the 2018 World Cup finals were left fearing they had been victims of a fix last night after they earned just two votes from the Fifa executive committee in a crushing defeat to Russia that ended any hope of England hosting their first tournament since 1966.

The Russian 2018 chief executive, Alexei Sorokin, told a member of the English bid team on Wednesday that the Russians believed they already had the necessary votes in the bag. Yesterday, Russia took just two rounds of voting to earn an outright majority, defeating both bids from Spain-Portugal and Netherlands-Belgium in the second round.

The chief executive of England's 2018 bid, Andy Anson, offered a brutal summary of the country's position in world football when he admitted, "I don't think people do like us". Intimating that there was also resentment of the success of the Premier League, he added: "You know what, we have got the strongest league in the world and we are proud as hell of it and that is not going to change."

Anson also questioned how England could finish first in Fifa's technical and economic evaluations into the bidding nations and yet attract so few votes from the 22 men on the all-powerful committee. "I honestly felt that we had enough comfort, enough people, to hope that things would go all right and we would go through the first round. We woke up [yesterday] morning thinking this.

"For me the biggest disappointment is that we clearly had the best technical bid and the best economic evaluation. Everyone has told me we had the best presentation. David Dein [the bid's international chairman] and myself, David Cameron, David Beckham and Prince William looked people in the eye and asked them for their vote. We were being told 'Yeah'. I am not sure what else you could do."

Anson described the money spent on the technical report as "£3m down the drain" because "the two bids with the worst technical reports won". He added: "I do feel that some people let us down. Yeah, I would be lying if I said they didn't let us down. Clearly people who promised us their vote didn't vote for us."



Beckham, who led England's presentation, along with Prime Minister Cameron and Prince William said that it was one of the worst days in his career. "I just had a feeling when I was sat there, I didn't know the result but I sensed it," he said. "There is a lot of disappointment and emotions running around the bid team.

"When you do work so hard at something and don't get anything it is disappointing and crushing. There is huge disappointment."

The pressure brought to bear on England by the Russian Prime Minister, Vladimir Putin, who accused the English media of "smearing" Fifa in all but name in a statement on Wednesday, was thought to have been decisive. Putin did not even travel to Zurich for the announcement but it is understood that ExCo members feel confident that their affairs will not attract the same level of scrutiny in Russia.

There was another key moment in the Spanish presentation yesterday when the Spanish ExCo member, Angel Maria Villar Llona, ended his speech by claiming that there was a "slander" campaign against Fifa. Another clear reference to investigations by the BBC Panorama programme and The Sunday Times it was thought to represent a call to arms to ExCo members to protect their own.

Two of the ExCo have already been suspended in the light of the Sunday Times' revelations. The award of the 2022 World Cup final to the tiny emirate of Qatar did little to dispel fears that the Fifa voting process was flawed.

The Mayor of London, Boris Johnson, was critical of the Fifa process but also said that he believed the investigations into them had affected England's chances. He said: "There was a feeling that all the furore and the whoo-ha in the media had damaged our chances. From the voting process it is very hard to draw any other conclusion and that is very sad. It is bitterly disappointing. I hope they think about the case that we made and will be more receptive in the future."

There is now very little chance of England playing their proposed friendly fixture in Thailand in June after they were clearly abandoned by the Thai ExCo member, Worawi Makudi, who had been courted by the bid. The only ExCo member other than England's Geoff Thompson to vote for the English bid was Junji Ogura, the Japan ExCo member, whose vote effectively cost £15m – the budget for the bid.

Lord Mawhinney, the former chairman of the Football League and a board member of the 2018 bid, said that he thought the Fifa president Sepp Blatter was more interested in taking the World Cup into new territories.

He said: "Mr Blatter said that, 'We're taking the World Cup to two areas of the world where it hasn't been before'. That may be the explanation, or a hint at policy, in which case we will have to think about things."

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Day In a Page

As in 1942, Germany must show restraint over Greece

As in 1942, Germany must show restraint over Greece

Mussolini tried to warn his ally of the danger of bringing the country to its knees. So should we, says Patrick Cockburn
Britain's widening poverty gap should be causing outrage at the start of the election campaign

The short stroll that should be our walk of shame

Courting the global elite has failed to benefit Britain, as the vast disparity in wealth on display in the capital shows
Homeless Veterans appeal: The rise of the working poor: when having a job cannot prevent poverty

Homeless Veterans appeal

The rise of the working poor: when having a job cannot prevent poverty
Prince Charles the saviour of the nation? A new book highlights concerns about how political he will be when he eventually becomes king

Prince Charles the saviour of the nation?

A new book highlights concerns about how political he will be when he eventually becomes king
How books can defeat Isis: Patrick Cockburn was able to update his agenda-setting 'The Rise of Islamic State' while under attack in Baghdad

How books can defeat Isis

Patrick Cockburn was able to update his agenda-setting 'The Rise of Islamic State' while under attack in Baghdad
Judith Hackitt: The myths of elf 'n' safety

Judith Hackitt: The myths of elf 'n' safety

She may be in charge of minimising our risks of injury, but the chair of the Health and Safety Executive still wants children to be able to hurt themselves
The open loathing between Barack Obama and Benjamin Netanyahu just got worse

The open loathing between Obama and Netanyahu just got worse

The Israeli PM's relationship with the Obama has always been chilly, but going over the President's head on Iran will do him no favours, says Rupert Cornwell
French chefs get 'le huff' as nation slips down global cuisine rankings

French chefs get 'le huff' as nation slips down global cuisine rankings

Fury at British best restaurants survey sees French magazine produce a rival list
Star choreographer Matthew Bourne gives young carers a chance to perform at Sadler's Wells

Young carers to make dance debut

What happened when superstar choreographer Matthew Bourne encouraged 27 teenage carers to think about themselves for once?
Design Council's 70th anniversary: Four of the most intriguing prototypes from Ones to Watch

Design Council's 70th anniversary

Four of the most intriguing prototypes from Ones to Watch
Dame Harriet Walter: The actress on learning what it is to age, plastic surgery, and her unease at being honoured by the establishment

Dame Harriet Walter interview

The actress on learning what it is to age, plastic surgery, and her unease at being honoured by the establishment
Art should not be a slave to the ideas driving it

Art should not be a slave to the ideas driving it

Critics of Tom Stoppard's new play seem to agree that cerebral can never trump character, says DJ Taylor
Bill Granger recipes: Our chef's winter salads will make you feel energised through February

Bill Granger's winter salads

Salads aren't just a bit on the side, says our chef - their crunch, colour and natural goodness are perfect for a midwinter pick-me-up
England vs Wales: Cool head George Ford ready to put out dragon fire

George Ford: Cool head ready to put out dragon fire

No 10’s calmness under pressure will be key for England in Cardiff
Michael Calvin: Time for Old Firm to put aside bigotry and forge new links

Michael Calvin's Last Word

Time for Old Firm to put aside bigotry and forge new links