England fans ought not to equate support for the
England team or English football in general with support for The Football Association's
World Cup 2006 bid.
There can be little doubt that England would do a
better job of staging the World Cup 2006 finals than any of the other nations bidding to
host them. But that cannot be the determinative factor in deciding whose bid succeeds. If
it were, the same few countries would host the finals every four years, and it would be a
World Cup in name only. Considerations of fairness must come into play, too.
Oceania are the only two football confederations that have yet to win the right to host
the finals. Furthermore, by 2006 every confederation but Africa and Oceania will have
hosted the finals more recently than South America, which last staged them in 1978. Once
equity is put into the balance and provided all financial and logistical requirements are
satisfied, it is clear that at least Africa and South America have claims to the 2006
finals that are superior to Europe's.
Whatever the fortunes of the national team on the
pitch, the authorities who govern the game in England long had a reputation throughout the
footballing world for fair play and decency, for conducting themselves honourably and for
consistently making the interests of the game paramount in their words and deeds. That is
why England continues to exercise an extraordinary influence on the game's worldwide
governance. The rest of the world may not always have liked England, but they always
respected England and accorded it a position and influence in the game commensurate with
The Football Association's World Cup 2006 campaign
has done immeasurable damage to this reputation. Its 2006 bid has been based on a
systematic course of betrayal, deceit, disloyalty, treachery, trickery, bribery and other
despicable behaviour. The rest of the world has seen the F.A. acting
dishonourably in its
own-self interest, and the consequence has been a loss of respect and a corollary loss of
influence. Already there are proposals abroad to remove the special positions of influence
on the international governing bodies that England and the other home countries have long
been granted in recognition of their founding role in the game.
When English football was desperately seeking to
regain credibility on the international stage in the wake of the post-Heysel ban from
European club competition, the F.A. promised to support Germany's World Cup 2006 bid in
exchange for Germany's support for England's bid for the 1996 European Championship.
Germany delivered in full, and England won the right to host Euro '96. But then the F.A.
waffled on its agreement. Immediately following Euro '96's success, the F.A. decided it
wanted to host World Cup 2006 itself.
At first the F.A. falsely claimed it had never
promised Germany its support for the 2006 finals. Then, when this failed to pass scrutiny,
it falsely claimed the F.A. chairman at the time of the agreement, the venerable Sir Bert
Millichip, who had long and faithfully served English football, had been senile, fell
asleep during the crucial meeting and generally didn't know what he was doing anyway.
Finally, after revelation of attempts to buy votes and a wholesale house-cleaning that has
brought in new, albeit temporary, leadership, the F.A. claims it's too late to do anything
about the broken agreement and its other appalling conduct because the World Cup bid now
belongs to the whole country and not just to the F.A.
This latest rationalization is, of course,
sleight-of-tongue calculated to avoid concession that millions have been wasted promoting
a bid that from its inception has been based on double-dealing and lying and which has
been advanced by bribery and wheeling and dealing befitting common scam artists.
costly, however, has been the loss of worldwide respect and influence the F.A.'s World Cup
campaign has generated. The F.A.'s new leadership would do much to restore the worldwide
credibility and respect the F.A. has lost were it to abandon this ill-considered venture.
The F.A. has an official website promoting its
World Cup 2006 campaign. If England fans wish to support a thoroughly disreputable
campaign that has harmed English football's reputation throughout the world, they may
visit this site and register their names in favour of the bid. But support for England's
national team by no means requires support for the bid.
4 May 1999.
Deposed F.A. chief executive Graham Kelly writes in
his regular column in The Independent (Monday, May 3, 1999): "The European
representatives still maintain that Sir Bert Millichip committed England to backing
Germany [in its bid to host World Cup 2006]. He had no reason to oppose his Uefa
colleagues before England entered the contest, but there is absolutely no record of where
and when such a vital gentleman's agreement was reached."
doesn't understand that the entire concept is that gentlemen keep their agreement without
requiring production of a formal record of it. For that reason, gentlemen don't
bother to make a formal record of it.
It is revealing that Kelly considers it
noteworthy that Sir Bert had no reason to oppose UEFA's support for Germany before England
decided to make its own bid. Gentlemen don't withdraw from their agreements merely
because altered circumstances have changed their own interests.
The implication of
Kelly's position is that a host of UEFA and German football officials are either liars or
blundering fools who have made a huge mistake about a matter of tremendous importance to
them. Plainly the collegial days of informal agreement by handshake or consensus are
over in the footballing world, and the Football Association may take a large part of the
responsibility for this dubious development.
15 December 1999
The Football Association recently trotted
out a written statement from former F.A. chairman Sir Bert Millichip in which he
denied there had ever been a gentleman's agreement that Germany would be
Europe's candidate to host World Cup 2006, and it claims that puts an end to the
Scepticism is surely justified. Only the gullible would fail
to ask why it has taken some three years for the F.A. to get a statement of
denial from Sir Bert and to wonder what pressures and cajolery were brought to
bear on him before he finally yielded and agreed to issue the statement.
The F.A. originally claimed Sir Bert had fallen asleep during the UEFA meeting
at which the hosting question was discussed and that, in any event, he was
senile and didn't know what he was doing. Now it claims we are to accept
the accuracy of his statement of denial issued many years after that meeting
Why Sir Bert's statement, which directly contradicts the
memories of a host of UEFA officials and German officials, should be regarded as
putting an end to the matter is beyond comprehension. Once again the F.A.
has demonstrated its duplicity and its disrespect for the intelligence of the
worldwide football community. Moreover, the F.A. has sacrificed both its
own reputation and the reputation of English football for the sake of the large
amount of money that is at stake--in a word, greed.