Leadership sank England bid, says Lee

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The Independent Football

England's ill-fated bid to host the 2018 World Cup was yesterday described as "less Premier League, more League One" by the Englishman behind Qatar's surprise success in being awarded the 2022 finals.

Mike Lee, who advised both the successful London and Rio de Janeiro Olympic campaigns and was a key player for Qatar, struck a rare note of criticism at what has otherwise been portrayed post-vote as a strong campaign, particularly in the technical and presentational aspects.

On the day that President Medvedev rang Sepp Blatter to thank him for awarding Russia their first finals, Lee criticised elements of England's bid, particularly the initial leadership. He said: "If I'm being absolutely brutal about it and I look at international campaigns from across the world, I think this England bid campaign was not Premier League, it was relegation and League One.

"You can understand the frustration and disappointment but I'm not sure it's healthy to blame everyone else and not reflect on the campaign itself. As you look back, from the choice of the wrong bid leader in the first instance through to alienating the Premier League and a series of PR own-goals, it has not been a success.

"A lot was made at the beginning of how it was not going to repeat the mistakes of 2006 but it actually repeated many of those mistakes and even ended up with three fewer votes, and only half as many as Holland and Belgium.

"I'm not denigrating the work that was done – one of the people who comes out with his head held high is David Dein. Dein came into an incredibly difficult situation. It was clear to everybody that Lord Triesman was not the right choice. He was not popular among his fellow colleagues here in English football. He was terribly unpopular in international football and for nearly 60 per cent of the campaign we were hampered.

"But David Dein, Sir Keith Mills, Seb Coe and David Beckham deserve plaudits, as well as very many hard- working members of the bid team, but if you don't have the right leadership and you don't have the right strategy and you don't have a unique message you're not going to win."

Lee, who advised John W Henry during his takeover of Liverpool and whose next task will be campaigning for Pyeongchang to win the 2018 Winter Olympics for South Korea, believes the FA should look to use David Beckham in a similar role to the one he performed in Zurich.

"We must develop a much more international outlook to the way we work in terms of Uefa and Fifa," he said. "It might also be smart to sign up David Beckham as an international ambassador and work with him to explore what role he could play. He has shown in helping both London 2012 and this campaign that he represents his country with real dignity."

Lee also backed Dein for the role of chairman of the FA, a position that was temporarily filled by Roger Burden following Triesman's resignation. Lee said: "This is an opportunity to appoint someone who knows the game at both club and national team level and also has experience of the international football environment. In my view David Dein does have all of those credentials and I do think he would make an ideal candidate."

In his response to Medvedev, Blatter defended Fifa's policy for determining World Cup hosts. Yesterday there were further allegations in the Sunday Times, claiming two executive committee members had offered their support in exchange for cash for their federations on the eve of the vote.

Alex Horne, the FA's general secretary, said he will talk to the world governing body about reform. "I think there is a need for process reform, certainly a review of process so I will be talking to Fifa about it," he said.