U.K. Prime Minister David Cameron said he’s “bitterly disappointed” England failed to gain the right to host the 2018 soccer World Cup after he spent three days in Zurich trying to win votes.
The opposition Labour Party said after FIFA, the sport’s governing body, awarded the competition to Russia that the government should set up an independent review into why the bid failed and the way football is run in England. FIFA said England got just two votes from the 22 executive-committee members and was eliminated in the first round.
“It’s bitterly disappointing,” Cameron said after returning from Zurich, where he helped make the England bidding team’s presentation today. “According to FIFA, we had the best technical bid, we had the strongest commercial bid, the country is passionate about football, but it turns out that isn’t enough,” he said. “It’s hard to see what more you can do.”
Cameron was involved in meetings with delegates until after midnight last night, his office said. The prime minister also met with FIFA President Sepp Blatter at his official residence in London on Oct. 13.
“I certainly don’t think they made a decision on the merits of the bid,” London Mayor Boris Johnson told Sky News television in Zurich. “Gutted is an understatement.”
Cameron’s spokesman, Steve Field, declined to comment on suggestions by reporters today that a report by BBC television’s “Panorama” program that made allegations of corruption within FIFA, broadcast three days ago, might have cost the England bid votes. “I’m not going to get drawn into the reasons why,” Field said.
‘Sorry for Fans’
“It’s very sad,” Prince William, who also took part in the presentation, told Sky after the result was announced. “I’m sorry for the fans back home that we lost out.”
Labour’s sports spokesman, Ivan Lewis, said there should be a “root-and-branch” inquiry into the management of soccer after the failure of the bid and the England team’s poor showing in this year’s World Cup in South Africa.
“Serious questions have to be answered as to how we can learn lessons from these significant setbacks to build a better future,” Lewis said in an e-mailed statement. “The coalition and the football authorities should now set up an independent root and branch inquiry into all aspects of how our national game is run.”
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