Sports letters: Cup cheek
Wednesday 29 September 1999
Sir: Does the cheek of the English World Cup campaign know no bounds? I read that the director, Alex McGivan, has "ruled out any deals" with other countries. A good thing too, since no national federation will have failed to note that England egregiously broke its promise to the German federation, which had backed them for Euro 96 in return for support for the German 2006 bid. This has been rather under-reported; imagine the outcry here if things had been the other way around.
It seems to me that the English World Cup campaign has nothing to recommend it. Here, Euro 96 is viewed as a success and the French World Cup as a ticketing travesty; yet I sought tickets for Denmark - Croatia in 1996 for months and was repeatedly told it was sold out, only to turn on my television and see a third-empty Hillsborough.
Contrast this to the World Cup last year, when there was never more than a handful of seats empty at any game and the 80,000-capacity Stade de France was sold out even for the meeting of Romania and Tunisia.
Judging by people's attitudes in this country, empty seats are preferable to seats occupied by French people. Outside Britain, Euro 96 is recognised as a rather poorly organised tournament.
So morally, Bobby Charlton, Michael Owen et al do not deserve the 2006 World Cup, and in terms of organisation England has certainly shown no sign that they can host it well. Is it any wonder that as a neutral I fervently hope justice is served and another country, any other country, wins the right to host it?
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