Belfast Telegraph

Saturday 27 December 2014

Media 'killed 2018 World Cup bid'

Chief executive Andy Anson was unhappy about the role of the British media during the failed bid
Chief executive Andy Anson was unhappy about the role of the British media during the failed bid
David Beckham reacts to the news that England will not be hosting the 2018 World Cup
Young children react in Manchester as they learn England will not host the 2018 World Cup

The head of England's failed campaign to host the 2018 World Cup has said that Fifa delegates believe the British media "killed" the bid.

Speaking at a press conference at the bid team's headquarters in Zurich, chief executive Andy Anson said: "We have spoken to some executive committee members. And I'll be very clear that what they are saying to us is one thing.

"I'll caveat this by saying this is not our excuse at all. But they are saying to us that our media killed us."

Despite investing £15 million and sending big-hitters such as Prince William, David Cameron and David Beckham to Zurich in an attempt to win, only two members of Fifa's 22-man executive committee voted for England.

Mr Anson said: "My only issue, as you know, with the Sunday Times and the BBC, and more the BBC, was the timing of it.

"For us, it was almost impossible to bounce back with three or four weeks to go. And then in the last week to actually know that Fifa executive committee members were saying to us that our media is killing us."

Mr Anson was repeatedly pressed on who did not deliver on their promise of voting for England, but he refused to reveal any names. He also called for extensive changes to the World Cup voting process.

Only 22 of Fifa's 208 national football associations were included in the ballot, and the voting pattern of individual delegates was kept secret.

"You have got to open it up to all the member associations. You've got to widen the electorate," he said. "For me, you should have transparency and open voting so that everyone knows who voted for whom, because I don't believe that the secret ballot actually helps transparency at all and it leads to the situation we had where people promise you something and don't deliver."

Culture Secretary Jeremy Hunt questioned Fifa's methods for choosing hosts - calling England's rejection "a slap in the face". Putting together a strong technical bid appeared to be pointless if the priority was to award the tournament to untapped markets, he said.

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