Warner: Press 'insults' sunk World Cup bid

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The Independent Online

It is becoming increasingly clear that Fifa's humiliation of England's World Cup bid was a bitter reaction to the British media's investigations into the game's governing body.

Yesterday two more of the Executive Committee members who voted last week, including the influential Jack Warner, revealed that they ignored England's claim to host the 2018 finals because of the allegations of corruptions made against several of their colleagues.

England's so-called "Three Lions" – David Cameron, Prince William and David Beckham – made extensive attempts in Zurich to woe Warner, and the three Concacaf votes he controlled. Despite belief among members of the England team that they had secured his support, their efforts proved in vain and yesterday Warner explained why. "Suffice it to say that the Fifa ExCo as a body could not have voted for England having been insulted by their media in the worst possible way at the same time," he told the Press Association. "To do so would have been the ultimate insult [to Fifa]."

Japan's Junji Ogura held another potential England vote that never materialised. He said: "The African members of the executive committee were furious over The Sunday Times report. The reports definitely had an impact on the England bid. There's no mistake about that."

Andrei Arshavin said yesterday that he understood why the English had reacted with such despondency to Fifa's decision not to make them hosts, but that Russia will be a "perfect" venue. The Arsenal playmaker would not be drawn on suggestions of corruption between Fifa and the Russian bid but he did say that in terms of the staging of the competition: "If Vladimir Putin [the Russian prime minister] wants to do something then he does it really well."

As captain of the Russia team and its biggest star, Arshavin was a key part of the bid's final presentation, making a speech in English to the Fifa executive committee about the effect football has had on his life.

Arshavin said: "I was surprised we won. I think England's reaction was predictable. Football in England is a religion and after I came back Jack Wilshere said to me: 'Look what you've done. I dreamed of lifting the trophy here'.

"I've done what I had to do [in relation to the bid]. If you want to talk about Fifa ask somebody else. I just read it. If you talk about the quality of the World Cup [in Russia] then it will be perfect, believe me."

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