Exclusive: We have met every one of Fifa's demands in creating the perfect bid

Whether England succeed or fail, the country should be proud it was brave enough to chase dream of hosting another World Cup
Click to follow
The Independent Football

Sometimes in life we get down to one last option and in the case of England's World Cup bid we have reached it now.

We can only do what is right, make our case and say: "This is what we have to offer, this is who we are and ask only that you judge us on this and not any of the other issues that may be clouding your thoughts." If we say this, and really mean it, we can say that we have done all that was possible. Then, win or lose, we can also say: "We did our best and we did it right and so we have nothing to regret." Some things you can't change, I know that. I have never seen myself as a man for back corridors, but I also know that these are the places in any big and powerful organisation, composed of so many different men with different instincts and priorities, where deals can be made and influence peddled.

It means that if I can do anything of value in Zurich it is to stand up, out in the open, and say that I am proud to be part of England's bid – and proud that I can put anything my name still represents behind the effort to make World Cup 2018 happen in England.

You cannot make the world always run perfectly fairly in your view or tell a broadcasting organisation or newspapers what they must or must not say or guarantee what an African Fifa delegate will choose to do when it comes to the moment of decision. You can't program life and people quite like that.

Now we are here in Switzerland with one last chance to make our claim I think we have to be very clear about where we stand and what precisely we are proposing.

It is to run a World Cup that will be a credit to the country and the world's most popular game – a World Cup unencumbered by deals or any promise other than to do everything we can for the good of football.

We can hammer home the fact that we are able to provide stadiums and transport that are ready to go today. We know we can welcome the world with a great confidence that our success would not be to do so much with clever politics or lobbying but something I still hope can prove to be the most decisive factor of all.

This is the ability to say we have fulfilled every demand of Fifa in the preparation of a perfect bid – and it is a claim I will be happy and proud to make this week.

I believe Andy Anson has led the England campaign with tremendous energy and scrupulous attention to the detail of the rules, and I will tell him this however the voting goes.

It may not, in the event of our losing, be of any great and immediate consolation to him and all the other people who have thrown themselves into the challenge of returning the great tournament to England after a gap of 52 years, but one point can be made in either victory or defeat.

Anson and his colleagues can remind themselves that no one can do any more than meet the demands that are made when you first accept a hard and long undertaking. You know the risks and the potential for disappointment, but you also know the possible reward. So you can be pleased that you showed the nerve and the energy to go for it.

When I look at the small print of the bid I see that all the requirements have been met, all the undertakings on coaching initiatives and security and feasibility, and I know that everything has been done thoroughly and correctly with just one aim in mind.

It has been to convince Fifa that it is time for England to get the chance to make another contribution to the history of the game and the most important tournament it ever stages.

There may be recriminations and bitterness if the bid fails but I urge against such reactions for two reasons.

One is that I believe it was right to make the bid and reach out for something that would bring pleasure to so many people in this country, even while acknowledging that we might fail, as we did in 2006. The other is I still think we have a good chance of having our faith in ourselves rewarded in the next few hours.

My advocacy will be quite basic. I will urge the voters to look carefully at our proposal and see if they can recognise any weakness or claims that cannot be solidly substantiated. I can do this with great confidence because I have seen the bid unfold and now see that all the details are delivered whole and perfectly on schedule.

Of course, I will also point out that it is not as though we have made our bid from the margins of the game.

I will point out that an increasing number of people see English football as the most compelling in the world. It is why across the world they tune in to the Premier League in so many millions each week. They can see the quality of the stadiums and the enthusiasm with which the game is celebrated live and in the flesh.

The world saw that in 1966 and it is still a memory vivid for all those who were around at the time, all those who felt the swell of anticipation over the months and then, for the hosts, the final expression of joy in the streets of London which some said had not been seen since the night of Victory in Europe 21 years earlier.

I thought of all that when we campaigned for World Cup 2006 and lost to Germany. That bid was complicated, fatally I think, by the claim that the chairman of the Football Association, the late Bert Millichip, had done a tit-for-tat deal with the Germans when we won the right to host Euro 96. I always doubted the strength of the claim but, in the end, it was no hardship recognising that the Germans made a good bid and then produced an excellent tournament.

This is my deepest hope for England now and if it happens I know how much the country will look forward to the great event.

Back in 1962 in Chile, the England players were already excited by the fact that the World Cup would be coming in four years' time. We were staying in a mining camp at the top of a mountain and went down to the stadium along a single-gauge railway. When we arrived a band played us a welcome. That was a modestly staged World Cup but it filled a poor country with pleasure and pride, and in their winning bid the president had pleaded: "We have so little but the World Cup would mean so much."

In a different age England is not making such a plea. We are saying that we have a good bid and hope and trust that it will be considered on its merits. Really, it is not asking so much.

Sir Bobby Charlton was talking to James Lawton

Comments