England WC bid bosses apologise over BNP link
England's bid to host the 2018 or 2022 World Cup started with a public-relations embarrassment after it emerged British National Party politician Richard Barnbrook was among those at Monday's campaign launch at Wembley.
David Beckham, Wayne Rooney, Prime Minister Gordon Brown and Football Association chairman Lord Triesman all spoke at the national stadium, where the presence of Barnbrook angered some of the audience.
An England 2018 spokesman said: ''All elected members of the GLA (Greater London Authority) were invited to the launch.
''We recognise that the presence of one elected member, who is playing no part in the England 2018 bid, has caused offence and we apologise. He should not have been present at the event and will not be at any in the future.''
Bid officials had been hoping for a positive start to the campaign, with chief executive Andy Anson vowing to learn from the mistakes of 2006 when England failed.
Triesman, meanwhile, had spoken of the ''home-from-home welcome'' that England would give fans and teams if the tournament was staged in the country.
''Inside and outside our grounds, we'd share with them the love of the game and our sense of fair play,'' he said. ''And they would enjoy our diverse culture - one that means England would provide a home-from-home welcome for every fan and player.''
One eyewitness said of the presence of Barnbrook: ''I found it shocking and it undermined the tone of the launch and ran counter to it.
''They were making all the right sounds during the presentation, phrases like 'making England a home from home', and here was someone sitting there from the BNP. Why would you invite him?''
It is also understood that equality and inclusion campaigners Kick It Out were not invited, which puzzled some guests.
Lord Herman Ouseley, founder and chairman of Kick It Out, said: ''We have had a number of complaints since this news came to light, many citing the bizarre nature of having a BNP presence at the launch.
''If the aim of the event was to send out a message of diversity and multi-representation then this seems a strange way of going about it.
''As football's equality and inclusion campaign, we regret this very unfortunate start to a campaign of such national significance and hope we don't see a repeat.''