Warner claims to be 'critical friend' of World Cup bid

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The Independent Football

The Fifa vice-president Jack Warner has defended himself against personal attacks following his criticism of England's World Cup bid.

He came under fierce attack in some quarters after describing England's World Cup bid as "lightweight", with suggestions that his trip to London was at the Football Association's expense. Walker said last week he was commenting on England's bid as a "critical friend" and in an email to FA chairman Lord Triesman said of the attacks on him: "They do not know what they do".

"Do kindly let your media know that I paid my own airfare and that of my colleagues and that I was prevailed upon by your staff not to pay my hotel expenses," he added. "Time will tell whether I have been right or wrong in the unsolicited advice I have given."

Warner is an influential member of the 25-man Fifa executive committee who will vote on the 2018 and 2022 World Cup hosts in December next year. The leaders of England's World Cup bid have said they will listen to Warner's advice but have a long-term game-plan that they will stick to.

Warner had said that England have sent "lightweight" representatives to meet Fifa executives who hold key votes like himself. Warner has three votes and could influence a further two. He arrived at last week's Stamford Bridge for the Leaders Of Football conference and saw guests being given a free bags promoting Australia's bid for either 2018 or 2022.

"I came here and was shocked that I got a bag for Australia at the entrance," Warner said. "I wouldn't have allowed it. Why isn't there a bag for England? People are looking at these things and asking themselves questions. My colleagues are saying very quietly that the guys who are coming to them are lightweight. This is the type of thing that loses you a bid.

"You have to look at what others are doing and also be creative yourself - these things are not happening."

Danny Jordaan, who led South Africa's successful bid for next year's tournament, added: "There is a large global awareness of the English Premier League but that connection between a domestic product and a world event must be made."

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