English call for World Cup vote reform after rout

AFP, Friday 3 Dec 2010

England's beaten World Cup 2018 bid team called for a reform of FIFA's voting procedures here Friday as officials struggled to comprehend the country's humiliating first-round defeat


Bid chief Andy Anson told reporters there was no point in England bidding for the tournament in future unless football's governing body changed the way World Cup hosts were decided in future.

In a separate development, Anson revealed that FIFA supremo Sepp Blatter had issued a last-minute warning about the "evils of the media" to the 22 voters just before Thursday's secret ballot got under way.

"I would say right now don't bother (bidding) unless you know the process is going to change," Anson told a news conference in Zurich. "When there are only 22 guys that gives them too much influence."

England were eliminated in the first round after mustering just two votes, one of which was from England's representative on the FIFA executive committee. Russia later went on to win with 13 votes.

Anson could not hide his dismay though that Russia's bid, which had scored low marks from FIFA's technical evaluation group, had prevailed over England.
"When you have the best technical bid, fantastic inspection reports, the best economic report, it's quite hard to stomach that all that seemed to count for absolutely nothing," he said.

England had been increasingly confident of victory after a high-powered charm offensive led by Prime Minister David Cameron, heir to the throne Prince William and football icon David Beckham.
However Anson said FIFA members who had pledged to support England had inexplicably swapped sides. "I'm not going to beat around the bush. Individual members promised to vote for us and didn't clearly," Anson said.

The decision to stage the bids for both the 2018 and 2022 tournaments at the same time was also a mistake, Anson said.
"Everyone who had a vote and a bid clearly wanted to trade that vote for something that helped them get over the line in that campaign," he said. "Australia had a very good bid and they got one vote, we had a very good bid and we got two, the USA had an unbelievably strong technical bid and got three.
"Six votes in the first round between those three, there's something not quite right. You have to open the vote to all member associations and have transparency so everyone knows who voted for whom."

Meanwhile Anson revealed Blatter had spoken to voters about the "evils of the media", a remark apparently directed at British media reports which had alleged corruption amongst FIFA's hierarchy.

"I think that was unhelpful - the last thing those guys hear before they go and tick the box is the evil of the media. That is not helpful and actually inaccurate," Anson said.
However Anson said he was sceptical that the media were the reason for England's crushing defeat.

"They are saying to us that our media killed us but I don't believe that for one minute," Anson said. "Russia did a lot of last-minute lobbying and votes appeared to switch at the last minute - we know some switched in the early hours of the morning."

English officials had stayed up until 5:00am on the morning of the vote to lobby members, Anson revealed. As the dejected English prepared to depart Zurich, the nation's press were declaring that Thursday's vote -- which also saw the 2022 tournament awarded to Qatar in a shock upset -- was rigged.

"Fixed!" screamed an outraged Sun in its headline.The Times' editorial pulled few punches: "The system of World Cup elections is abysmally corrupt," it claimed. "It is too small, making it easily manipulated, and it is too secret, protecting it from scrutiny."

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