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Dec 3, 2010

England 2018 bid accused of arrogance

Prince William and David Cameron's presence spearheading England World Cup bid presentation in Zurich backfired spectacularly, according to one of the FIFA voting committee, who has accused the FA of "arrogance".

• Mike Lee: Why England failed
• Forum: Selection process improvements
• Paper Round: Some angry men
• Russia and Qatar win hosting race
• Russia revels in 2018 award
• Brewin: Old charges, new frontiers
• USA woe at 2022 failure
• Qatar joy at bid success
• Sir Dave stunned at decision

While the inevitable and predictable recriminations, mud-slinging and so-far unproven accusations have been flying around, ESPNsoccernet has been investigating why exactly England were humiliated by receiving only on aditional vote to that of their own former FA chairman Geoff Thompson.

High-level sources have told ESPNsoccernet that a member of the FIFA Executive Committee has privately branded the England bid as "arrogant", and cited the presence of the heir to the throne and the Prime Minister as an example of "an air of arrogance."

Russia's President Vladimir Putin opted not to be part of the final presentation, which was viewed (24 hours before the votes were cast) as a major setback for Russia, and the boost England needed to cross the finishing line. As it turned out, Putin thought that it would be best not to follow the English example of going "over the top" and so stayed away, only arriving once Russia had won the vote.

ESPNsoccernet's source said: "I received a call from one of the FIFA executive committee who said that there has been an air of arrogance about the England bid, and that sending the Prince and Prime Minister epitomised that arrogance.

"I could see the point he was making, that it was supposed to be a football vote, and the England bid was turning into a political one. There is genuine sympathy being shown from around the world that England didn't win the bid, but there are a lot of people pleased that Qatar won 2022 as it will provide a different dimension to the whole of the Arab world, which is seen as a positive thing."

ESPNsoccernet's sources suggested earlier this week that England had completely blown their bid, and was way behind Russia and Spain and would indeed be lucky to finish third.

The direction of President Sepp Blatter to the Executive Committee minutes before they cast their votes stated his personal desire to expand the global brand and deploy the World Cup in new territories. With South Africa chosen for 2010, and now firsts for Russia and the Middle East, it appears that the England bid was doomed from the outset.

It has been estimated in the media that the bid cost £15 million, but ESPNsoccernet has learned that the final bill will be not much short of £20 million, including the enormous costs of a huge delegation that travelled to Zurich, including Prince William and the Prime Minister, with their inevitable additional costs of security.

The media's intrusive coverage was the final nail, which convinced even England's staunchest backers that it was not worth going against the will of Blatter. Indeed, Blatter's personal preference to open up new territories, in turn, will also cement votes when it comes to his re-election as FIFA President.

But it may be disturbing to learn that among the FIFA powerbrokers there is an inherent dislike to the arrogant English and their belief that because they invented the game, they have a right to expect it to "come home". That day might never come until attitudes change.

Members of the FA's bid committee have expressed their opinion that there is a personal dislike for England, and the abortive bid of "Football's Coming Home" in 2006 was another message that FIFA found to their dislike.

England will probably not get another chance to bid until 2030 at the earliest and the hired hands in the bid team will not be around. In fact, they were on six months' notice, whether they had landed the 2018 World Cup or not.

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