Select Committee on Culture, Media and Sport Minutes of Evidence

Memorandum submitted by the Football Association


  1.  This second report to the Committee describes England's 2006 World Cup campaign from its launch in 1997 until Germany's victory in July 2000, and offers some suggestions for future bids. The choice of venue for World Cup tournaments is made by FIFA's 24-man Executive Committee. Bidders have to meet FIFA's exacting "Requirements" and conform with its campaign guidelines. Brazil, England, Germany, Morocco and South Africa competed to host the 2006 World Cup (paras. 1.1-1.8).

  2.  The Football Association announced England's Bid immediately following the successful EURO '96 tournament in England. The strength of England's Bid lay in the success of the domestic game, its modern stadia and world-wide following. It was a serious blow when, in January 1997, UEFA declared its support for Germany as a result of the so-called Gentlemen's Agreement, under which UEFA allegedly awarded England EURO'96 in return for England's acquiescence in Germany's nomination as Europe's candidate for the 2006 World Cup. Even so, due to the strength of England's case, we believed that these difficulties could be overcome and that England could win (paras, 2.1-2.6).

  3.  The ingredients of England's Bid: its secondary campaign objective was to promote the reputation of English football. Key elements of its strategy focused on the FIFA 24. A professional campaign style was adopted. "Six Reasons" for supporting England. Importance of the Technical Bid Document and of Government and Parliamentary support (paras. 3.1-3.13). An Action Plan was prepared, drawing upon the help of the FCO and its overseas posts and of Bid Ambassadors Sir Bobby Charlton, Geoff (later Sir Geoff) Hurst and Gary Lineker. Staffing and budgetary requirements (£9.4 million) assessed, together with corporate sponsorship (paras. 3.14-3.32).

  4.  Organisational aspects included a programme of promotional events, multi-language publications, Bid merchandise and a comprehensive database and media plan (paras. 4.1-4.23). A major effort went into compiling a Technical Bid Document aimed at satisfying FIFA's tournament requirements for Government guarantees, finance, infrastructure, transport, accommodation, etc (paras. 5.1-5.22).

  5.  England's campaign strategy, recognising that at least 5 of UEFA's 8 votes could go to Germany, concentrated initially on FIFA members outside Europe who had no regional candidate, ie North/Central America and Caribbean; Asia; and Oceania. Importance of "second preference votes" of South America and Africa whose candidates (Brazil and South Africa/Morocco) might withdraw or be eliminated in the voting. The campaign would seek to overcome England's weak position in UEFA and FIFA by visiting each FIFA member and by patiently building up relationships, also drawing upon advice and help of Government and diplomatic posts overseas (paras. 6.1-6.22).

  6.  Campaign Diary February 1997-June 1998: campaign launched by Prime Minister, John Major, enjoyed Government and all-party support throughout. Campaign staff recruited and campaign funded by The FA, Premier League and Sport England. Handicap of England's historically weak representation in UEFA and FIFA (paras. 7.1-7.7). First lobbying visit to New York and Caribbean. Serious problems with Saudi Arabia and England fixture. Initial contacts with the Asians (paras. 7.8-7.13). FIFA President, Havelange, tells Tony Blair that England is his "personal choice for 2006". Campaign visit to Paraguay and Argentina. South America prefers England to Germany (paras. 7.14-7.20). Lobbying visit to Qatar and to CONCACAF conference.

  Saudi Sports Minister comes to England for Cup Final and England v Saudi Arabia at Wembley (paras. 7.21-7.25).

  7.  The FA frustrates UEFA manoeuvre at FIFA Congress to eliminate England's Bid and, after much soul-searching, backs Blatter, FIFA General Secretary, rather than UEFA President, Johansson, for FIFA Presidency. Blatter wins (para. 7.26-27). 1998 World Cup in France marred and Bid threatened by English hooliganism at Marseilles (paras. 7.28-7.30).

  8.  Campaign Diary July 1998-July 1999: England's campaign gaining ground, emergence of strong South African bid, supported by Blatter. Possible German/South African deal collapses. Campaign visit to Spain, Cameroon, Mali and Qatar (paras. 8.1-8.12). Sir Bobby Charlton in Malta. Minister for Sport an effective lobbyist. Further visit to Thailand where FA coach assists national team (paras. 8.13-8.17).

  9.  FA Chief Executive and Chairman resign, seen as linked to efforts to get England a seat on FIFA Executive. FIFA issues Guidelines for Bidders. CONCACAF President inspects England's stadia. Visits to Tunisia and New Zealand. England's "Welcome to the World" launched—2,500 school children invited to attend a World Cup in England (paras. 8.18-8.26).

  10.  Problems for the Bid as England club sides show reluctance to release young players for World Youth Championship in Nigeria. Bid team attends tournament, and then on to Botswana, New York and Malta (paras. 8.29-8.31).

  11.  Centre-piece of England's campaign: 16 FIFA Executive members are FA's guests at 1999 Cup Final. Received by HRH Prince of Wales and Prime Minister as part of intensive lobbying and social programme. UEFA President agrees that European FIFA members may vote according to their own consciences. Most still favour Germany (paras. 8.32-8.35).

  12.  Manchester United wins European Champions' League Final, but cannot reconcile congested fixture list with World Cup Championship in Brazil. Failure to take part could badly damage England's Bid. Reluctant acceptance that Manchester United be exempted from FA Cup. Women's World Cup in Los Angeles. FIFA postpone 2006 World Cup decision until July 2000, after EURO 2000. Asians clash with FIFA over extra place for 2002 World Cup. Visits to Costa Rica, Paraguay and Mexico. Bid submission in Zurich (paras. 8.36-8.47).

  13.  Campaign Diary August 1999—July 2000: England reassesses prospects. Visits to Las Vegas and Malaysia. Qatar to support Germany. Alter intensive preparation, FIFA Inspection of England's grounds and organisation appears to go well. Spain, upset at UEFA awarding EURO 2004 to Portugal, hints at possible support for England. Campaign team in Saudi Arabia and Qatar for British Council football exhibition. Row over Wembley Stadium (paras. 9.1-9.17).

  14.  Sir Bert Millichip issues statement clarifying rejection of the Gentlemen's Agreement. Further visits to Thailand, Korea and Tokyo for World Cup Draw, where Wembley story clouds Bid prospects. World Club Championship in Brazil. South Africa makes emotional appeal at African Congress in Accra. Havelange rates England's chances as slim. Argentine FA President arrives for England v Argentina match and repeats CONMEBOL "second preference" for England. Lobbying in Cannes, Los Angeles and Trinidad, followed by Botswana, Korea and Tunisia. CONMEBOL President in London. FA Chairman in Trinidad (paras. 9.18-9.38).

  15.  Tense meeting with UEFA, who accept England's right to bid, but give little ground on Gentlemen's Agreement or on support for Germany. Important CONCACEF and African visits to England (paras. 9.37-9.47). Successful Bid promotion at CONCACEF Congress, Nassau and then on to Asian and Oceania Congresses, where concerted moves by Blatter and South Africa fail to win the Pacific vote for South Africa or to oust Dempsey. Early June 2000: high point of campaign—England can win 13 votes, but problems ahead. Malta v England (paras. 9.48-9.59).

  16.  Rumours of South American deal with Africa, not dispelled by visit to CONMEBOL, Paraguay. England fans run riot at EURO 2000 in Belgium. FIFA sentiment moves away from England. Crisis meetings with CONCACAF. Recognition that England cannot win. FA Board incensed at unfair FIFA inspection. Orders that campaign continue (paras. 9.60-9.69).

  17.  UEFA Congress in Luxembourg. FA Chairman elected to UEFA Executive. Bid team briefs press that Europe should support England. Last minute lobbying in Zurich prior to the vote. South Americans not supporting England following Brazil's withdrawal. CONCACAF confirm vote for England in first round, but will maintain support in the second only if England get six votes in the first. Final presentations to the FIFA Executive. The result: Germany wins with 12 votes from South Africa (11), with New Zealand abstaining. England gains 5 votes (Scotland, New Zealand, and CONCACAF—Trinidad and Tobago, United States and Costa Rica) in the first round and is eliminated in the second. Ceremonial announcement of the result and final press briefings (paras. 9.70-77).

  18.  Obstacles to England's campaign: bids invariably confront obstacles which they must try to overcome, often at high cost to the domestic game and in the face of public opinion. England's World Cup Bid had more than its fair share—the Gentlemen's Agreement, English hooliganism, the FIFA Presidential Election, the Kelly/Wiseman crisis, Wembley Stadium, Manchester United's participation in the World Club Championship, England fixtures (paras. 10.1-10.34).

  19.  Immediate causes of England's defeat: first, football politics: inter-Confederation deals (South America/Africa and Europe/Asia); secondly, postponement of FIFA's decision from March until July 2000; and thirdly, English hooliganism. More fundamental reasons were the undermining effects of the Gentlemen's Agreement and The FA's and English football's lack of influence in Europe and world-wide, depriving us of the crucial support and leverage of England's parent confederation, UEFA (paras. 11.1-11.7).

  20.  Campaign achievements: despite failing to host the 2006 World Cup, England's Bid attained its secondary objective of raising the profile of English football. Wide respect for England's highly professional campaign, which also achieved lasting friendships. Expansion of The FA's Overseas Development Programme. Prospect that England will be the next European host of the World Cup (para. 12.1).

  21.  Key ingredients of a successful international bid: long-term investment in and influence with the sport's international administration, the active support of any European sports authority (eg UEFA) and wide recognition that it is "England's turn". Domestically, the national sports authority must be totally committed and ready to make sacrifices. Importance of Government support at home and overseas, together with a committed campaign staff, adequate budget, first class stadia, a lack of potentially undermining factors, eg hooliganism, and broad, if not uncritical, media support (para. 13.1).

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Prepared 27 March 2001