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Dec 2, 2010

Sir Dave Richards stunned

Sir Dave Richards, one of the most influential men in English football, reacted with "sadness" at discovering "the greatest nation in world football cannot host the World Cup".

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Sir Dave, an FA Executive Committee member and chairman of both Team England and the Premier League, told ESPNsoccernet soon after he heard the news from Zurich: "It is a real shame that the greatest nation in world football cannot host the World Cup. Why? I don't really know.

"[There are] Lots of reasons, you can say the media, but there is always someone else, others to blame.

"But perhaps it's time for change, the way FIFA decide such important issues like this, the most important of them all. If anything good comes from it, it will be the call for change."

Sir Dave knows that many of the English game's figureheads and legends will not be alive by the time England get the chance to host a World Cup again.

"The earliest will be 2030 and none of us will be around," he said. "None of the boys of '66, and who knows what FIFA will be like then, what the FA will be like or whether the FA would want to bid again for the World Cup. So who knows when we will ever get the World Cup back here, if at all."

To add insult to injury, FIFA have offically revealed that England were eliminated in the first round of voting, with just two votes in their favour, one of which was from English board member Geoff Thompson.

"[It is] Terrible," Sir Dave added. "How big a blow is this for football in our country? I will have to think long and hard about that question."

Ken Bates, an old adversary of Sepp Blatter and FIFA, advocates a European breakaway from world football's governing body - even if means dismantling the World Cup. The Leeds United chairman is not afraid to voice his feelings currently whispered only in private by many Premier League chairmen.

The all-powerful clubs and the Premier League are fed up of handing over their priceless playing assets for England duty, and having their multi-million pound players returned damaged and injured. The clubs are privately fuming at FIFA 'borrowing' their players for no fee for World Cups.

Bates told ESPNsoccernet: "In my opinion the awarding of the World Cup to Russia instead of England is a disgrace, and it leaves me wondering whether it's even worth the effort taking part in FIFA's two bob World Cup competition.

"FIFA is a case of the tail wagging the dog, of authority without responsibility."

Bates is also no friend of Roman Abramovich to whom he sold Chelsea, and with whom he fell out.

"If the experience of Chelsea fans who went to Moscow for the Champions League final is anything to go by, then it is clear supporters heading to Russia for the World Cup will find the same sort of fleecing of the ordinary fans who had to fork out an absolute fortune for tickets.

"At least, I was glad to see Mr Abramovich in Zurich wearing a tie - perhaps he knew something. It's bad enough awarding the World Cup to such a marginal country as Russia then God only knows whey they have gone for Qatar."

Bates sounded the battle cry against FIFA and the way it dominates world football, despite allegations of corruption and an unfair and distorted system of deliberating on World Cup bids.

He said: "I can only repeat what I said 10 years ago ... the European countries should resign form FIFA and tell them what they can do with the 2018 World Cup.

"I would suggest that all the broadcasters bid low, or don't bid at all for the TV rights for 2018, and if they put in a very, very low figure, that will let FIFA know what we think about it, because all FIFA is interested in is the money generated by the World Cup.

"Finally, I believe that England should disregard FIFA, the World Cup and concentrate on promoting English football, and let FIFA, Russia, and Qatar get on with it."

Meanwhile, Graham Taylor believes a perception of England as "arrogant'' and "know-alls'' ended their hopes of winning the 2018 World Cup but thinks their dismal showing in the voting could prompt investigations into the running of FIFA.

Taylor, speaking to Radio Five Live, said: "I ask the question 'what were we expecting?'. FIFA, for me, is full of people who say 'yes' to your face and 'no' behind your back. Their reputation has not changed for many years.

"We (England) have little or no influence; we are considered to be arrogant and know-alls and FIFA don't have to answer to anyone. I'm surprised that we're surprised. This has been going on for years and we've been aware of a lot of things going on around the back.''

British media investigations into FIFA practices and the conduct of influential members have been cited as one of the reasons England fared so badly in the voting, but Taylor believes they could yet come into their own.

"I have a feeling, perhaps, that it might be time...that they really need looking into and investigating and our journalists are very good at that. How long has this been going on? How long have been questions been asked of FIFA and when have they answered them?

"You don't want take away from Russia or Qatar but it may be that this is the trigger for it to get looked into.''

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