England’s World Cup bid committee asked soccer’s ruling body not to allow U.K. media reports to damage the country’s chances of hosting the event in 2018.
In a letter to FIFA’s executive committee released to the media, England bid officials Geoff Thompson and David Dein said the role of the British media had come “under the spotlight” amid “significant speculation” about its effect on the bid.
The 2018 and 2022 venues for sport’s most-watched event will be decided by a Dec. 2 ballot of FIFA’s executive committee, which has come under scrutiny after two members were suspended for telling undercover reporters from the Sunday Times they’d exchange World Cup votes for cash. Members of England’s bid committee feel the story has damaged the country’s chances.
“We hope England’s bid will not be judged negatively due to the activities of individual media organizations, regardless of one’s view of their conduct,” Thompson and Dein wrote. “We hope you appreciate that we have no control over the British media.”
They said that, if there is evidence of corruption, it must be investigated and, if proven, cannot be condoned.
“Your colleagues and our friends are facing investigation by the Ethics Committee and are rightly entitled to a fair hearing,” they added.
Thompson, England’s bid chairman, and Dein, the bid’s international president, said their committee had done all they could to assist FIFA, including telling the governing body of a bogus company the Sunday Times was using as part of its investigation.
Also, “we have made representations to the BBC (British Broadcasting Corp.) regarding a forthcoming documentary they are planning,” they said.
The 2018 bid committee said the British media could have a positive impact and be a powerful force for change if England’s bid succeeds.
A World Cup in England would give FIFA its “greatest platform to stage the most spectacular festival of football imaginable and to create the greatest global impact through football and social development,” Thompson and Dein wrote.
A call to FIFA’s Zurich headquarters wasn’t answered outside business hours.
Marios Lefkaritis, one of the 24 men who’ll decide where the World Cup is staged, last week said his vote will take into account meetings with bidders and technical analysis, not media reports.
“It’s not correct to base the decision on what the media say,” Lefkaritis said in an interview. “I’m not influenced by them.”
The Cypriot declined to say whether he’d yet decided on where his vote will go.
Nigerian Amos Adamu and Tahiti’s Reynald Temarii were suspended by FIFA days after the Sunday Times report was published on Oct. 17. The duo may be expelled on Nov. 17 when the ethics committee rules on their conduct.
FIFA will hold a special meeting of its executive board two days later to discuss the fallout of the ruling and also to investigate reports that Qatar’s 2022 bid committee may have colluded with a joint Spain/Portugal offer for 2018.
Russia, England and a combined effort from the Netherlands and Belgium are also bidding on 2018. The U.S., Australia, Japan and South Korea join Qatar in vying to host the event four years later.
A report produced for the U.S. bid committee said staging the World Cup would be worth around $5 billion. Political leaders such as U.K. Prime Minister David Cameron and former U.S. President Bill Clinton will be present for their country’s final presentations to the committee.
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