England have only one friend in the whole world - and it's the Fifa suit with the least reason to be
English football was left battered and betrayed last night as the Mother Russia of all stitch-ups stole the 2018 World Cup.
Only Cameroon’s Issa Hayatou - ironically one of those named by Panorama on Monday - joined our Fifa delegate and former FA chairman Geoff Thompson in backing the bid, as Russia won outright in just the second round of voting.
Despite a brilliant final bid presentation that even Fifa president Sepp Blatter declared “excellent and remarkable”, England were humiliated in Zurich with a first round elimination after securing just two votes.
That followed Concacaf chief Jack Warner telling Prince William after their meeting this week: “You have my vote.”
Angry bid chief executive Andy Anson, who saw a similar pledge from Turkey also evaporate, said: “I’m not going to name names but clearly some people looked me in the eye, promised they would support us and lied.
“We thought we had more than six but we clearly got less than six. I honestly thought we had enough.
“I do feel that some people let us down. I would be lying if I said they didn’t let us down. Clearly people who promised us their vote didn’t vote for us.”
The treachery came after the FA poured millions into developing football around the globe, including a trip to Warner’s home in Trinidad in 2008 and next summer’s planned friendly in Thailand.
Both the Trinidadian and Thailand’s Worawi Makudi did the dirty, making a mockery of the efforts the FA has made to try to make friends and influence people as England received three votes FEWER than in the doomed bid for the 2006 World Cup a decade ago.
The FA will now come under increasing pressure to pull the plug on the game in Bangkok, turning off the taps and letting the rest of the world stew after yesterday’s humiliation.
The failed bid cost £15million, while Prime Minister David Cameron, Prince William and David Beckham flew out to Zurich to press the flesh and make the final 30-minute pitch.
Blatter hailed the final presentation, clearly ranking it the best, while England were also ranked joint top with Spain/Portugal by the Fifa inspection team and were runaway leaders in the economic report compiled by international management consultants McKinsey.
All that effort counted for nothing, as Russia’s oil wealth and the petro-dollars of Qatar saw the 2018 and 2022 World Cups handed to bids Fifa themselves rated as the worst technical cases.
Cameron, who returned to Downing Street before the vote, hinted at the country’s frustration as he said: “According to FIFA we had the best technical bid, the strongest commercial bid and the country is passionate about football.
“But it turns out that is not enough. It’s desperately sad.”
Lord Seb Coe, a bid board member who previously masterminded London’s 2012 Olympics triumph, admitted: “We’re still trying to get our minds round what’s taken place. The campaign was strong and well received. We could not have done more than we did.”
Those who turned their backs on England tried to use the pretext of the Sunday Times and Panorama exposes of Fifa’s bung culture.
Chuck Blazer of the USA, who was supposed to be in the tank for the FA bid, claiming: “It didn’t create a positive environment for the England bid, but it’s difficult to get into the minds of other people and know if it really was a factor.”
Japan’s Junji Ogura, another who was being relied on by the England party, said: “Maybe England were affected by the BBC and The Sunday Times. England has full facilities and they could hold the World Cup anytime. I think England’s media reporting affected Executive Committee members.”
The truth is, though, that England never had a chance.
They were lied to, and the harsh reality is that England have been frozen out of world football.
WHO VOTED FOR WHO AS 2018 HOSTS
FIRST ROUND - England 2 votes, Holland/Belgium 4, Spain/Portugal 7, Russia 9. England eliminated.
SECOND ROUND - Holland/Belgium 2, Spain/Portugal 7, Russia 13. Russia wins with an absolute majority.