Select Committee on Culture, Media and Sport Minutes of Evidence

Memorandum submitted by the Football Association



  6.1  The bedrock of the English Bid's strategy lay in the strength and quality of England's case for staging the tournament. We believed, throughout the process, that any objective analysis would conclude that England's case was the strongest of all the competitors. While convinced that England's Bid was the best, at no stage did the English Campaign believe that this was in itself sufficient. Certainly the strength of our Bid provided the Campaign with a firm foundation, but it was always recognised by everyone involved that football politics would ultimately determine the result. Those in the British media who accused the English Campaign of naivety simply insulted the intelligence of those involved. Everyone knew throughout that having the best Bid was a great bonus but was not in itself enough to achieve victory.

  6.2  We believed that it was essential to have a clear definition of England's strong case and this was enshrined in the "Six Reasons Why England Should Host the World Cup" (para 3.9). This summary of England's case was used throughout the Campaign to great effect, but once the central argument had been established, the key lay in defining principal targets.

  6.3  At no stage did the English Bid give up on Europe and early on it was recognised that our best chances of achieving European support lay with Joe Mifsud (Malta) and Angel Maria Villar Llona (Spain). These became our priorities within UEFA. The remaining five Europeans — Per Omdal (Norway), Lennart Johansson (Sweden), Antonio Mataresse (Italy), Senes Erzik (Turkey) and Michel D'Hooghe (Belgium) were perceived to be a fairly solid pro-German block. We recognised that we were unlikely to achieve any of these particular five votes. Therefore while reasonable attention was given to the individuals concerned, they were not the targets of intense lobbying at any stage throughout the Campaign. Their clear pro-German position enabled us more easily to concentrate on the nineteen other members of the committee.

  6.4  While hoping to gain one or two votes in Europe it was clear from the outset that England's priorities lay elsewhere. We identified early on the importance of CONCACAF — the confederation embracing North and Central America and the Caribbean countries. Indeed the three FIFA members from CONCACAF Jack Warner (Trinidad & Tobago), Chuck Blazer (USA) and Isaac Sasso (Costa Rica) were the first members of the FIFA Executive to be visited by the English Campaign in the autumn of 1997 and they were three of those who voted for England in the final vote in July 2000. CONCACAF was most unlikely to have a candidate of its own. Moreover, early intelligence gathering confirmed that CONCACAF was very likely to vote as a bloc. Given the affinity between the United States/the Caribbean and the UK, there were real grounds for optimism that England could succeed in winning the CONCACAF votes.

  6.5  Additional sights were set on the one vote from Oceania, namely Charles Dempsey from New Zealand. The latter's support for English football was well known and, as a Scot who had emigrated to New Zealand after World War II, he would want, we strongly suspected, to support England's case. This indeed proved to be so. Charles Dempsey became a very faithful supporter of England's Bid throughout the process.

  6.6  Another continent that would not have a candidate was Asia. Hosting the tournament in Korea and Japan for 2002 meant Asia was ineligible to put forward a candidate for 2006. We recognised early on therefore that the four votes coming from Asia could be critical to the outcome and indeed they subsequently proved to be the real source of German victory in July 2000. Asia's commitment to Germany came late in the process and throughout the Campaign we worked very hard to try and secure the support of Asian members. We made very significant progress with both Worawi Makudi (Thailand) and Abdullah Al-Dabal (Saudi Arabia) so much so that at the end of the day we were disappointed that they did not vote for England. We were always less optimistic about Mohammed Bin Hammam (Qatar) and even more so Chung Mong-Joon (South Korea) who both subsequently proved to be firm supporters of Germany.

  6.7  The above left two other confederations for The FA's consideration. Both were likely to have candidates of their own. The first, CONMEBOL, representing South America, was thought likely to put forward Brazil. The second, CAF, representing Africa would not only be likely to put forward South Africa but also Egypt, Nigeria, Ghana and Morocco.

  6.8  As far as South America was concerned, the view of the English Campaign was that the Brazilian bid was not likely to succeed. Indeed it was our consistent view that Brazil was unlikely to be present come the final vote. Thus ultimately, the three South American votes Julio Grondona (Argentina), Nicolas Leoz (Paraguay) and Ricardo Teixeira (Brazil) were all likely to become available to a non-South American candidate.

  6.9  As a result, we decided that the English Bid should canvass them hard and with two in particular, namely Grondona and Leoz, tremendous strides were made over the three or so years of the Campaign. Canvassing Teixeira, who was fronting up the Brazilian campaign, was inevitably more difficult while Brazil nominally remained in the race.

  6.10  Finally there were the Africans. Clearly the African continent had a strong case for hosting the World Cup in that it had never done so before. It was difficult not to sympathise with the African case, but that said, one by one the African candidates dropped out leaving only South Africa and Morocco. Many felt that the moment was not right for South Africa and that ultimately South Africa would have to wait. On this basis the four African votes—Issa Hayatou (Cameroon), Amadou Diakite (Mali), Ismail Bhamjee (Botswana) and Slim Aloulou (Tunisia) were very important. If South Africa was eliminated, then the way in which the Africans voted between England and Germany would be crucial to the outcome.

  6.11  With all the above in mind, the English Campaign set its sights on securing a firm base of the three votes from CONCACAF, and one vote from Oceania to go with David Will's vote. We then identified that there were three other areas of possible support which could get England to the key number of nine and therefore into the final round against either Germany or South Africa. We canvassed hard the South Americans (3 votes), the Asians (4 votes) and the Africans (4 votes). Meanwhile, as mentioned previously, strenuous efforts were made for two of the other European votes.

  6.12  We decided that giving close personal attention to the actual voters for the decision was paramount, When England began its Campaign these voters were largely unknown to English football and it was therefore crucial that our Campaign started early to allow us the time to cultivate those concerned before asking for their votes. We believe that going in cold to ask for votes was unlikely to be successful. What we needed to do was build up relationships over a two or three year period in the hope that ultimately we could pin down clear support in the final weeks and months of the Campaign.

  6.13  We also believed that it was essential to go out and canvass individuals in their own countries. Merely sitting in London hoping that people would pass through in order to pay respects to English football was wholly unrealistic and would have been incredibly arrogant. We needed to go out and sell ourselves overseas. Starting in the autumn of 1997 the English Campaign established an effective lobbying team in Sir Bobby Charlton (the President of The FA's Bid), Tony Banks (the Minister of Sport and subsequently the Prime Minister's Special Envoy) and Alec McGivan (the Campaign Director).

  6.14  Beginning with visits to the three CONCACAF members in October 1997 England's Campaign of overseas lobbying began to unfold. It soon became evident that the early round of visits would need to be followed up by subsequent meetings either in the UK or once again in the countries of the members concerned. It also became evident that the English Campaign would need to be present at all the key events on the international football calendar. Not only did FIFA members regularly appear at these events but so too did the other Campaigns. To ignore them would be foolish. To those who say that the English Bid travelled too much overseas there is one simple question. What alternative strategy was there? It is of course overseas travel that is one of the main reasons why bidding is so expensive, but without it there would seem little point in bothering with the process at all.

  6.15   A key part of early Campaign activity was to gather intelligence on the World Cup process as a whole and to get a much better understanding of who would ultimately influence the decision. Subsequently the English Campaign created within its database what we called The Gold List. This list went beyond the FIFA 24 to include a limited number of other people thought to be highly influential within world football. The Gold List then became the central target of our campaigning, receiving regular communications in the form of personal letters, phone calls and wherever possible visits. They were also treated as priorities in terms of incoming visits to England.

  6.16  As far as the FIFA 24 was concerned, strenuous efforts were made to build relationships with all those of whom we had reasonable expectations of supporting England. Sir Bobby Charlton and Tony Banks both succeeded in achieving very close personal relationships with a number of the FIFA members and over three years relations certainly evolved to a very positive state. We did our very best to be a little different from other campaigns and to be as informal as possible, distancing ourselves from the preconceived expectation of English formality.

  6.17  The English FA had not, prior to the Bid, been good at cultivating overseas opinion, building relationships and winning friends. From the outset, it was clear that the English had a reputation for arrogance. The domestic media's sometimes exaggerated expectations of the national side's abilities combined with England's pride, often taken as a sense of superiority, in being the home of football did not always go down well overseas.

  6.18  The Bid therefore gave English football a real opportunity. Of course the priority was to go out and win sufficient votes to win the World Cup bidding process, but there was also a chance, through the bid, to present a much more attractive face for English football than that to which the FIFA and other international football decision makers were accustomed. Being prepared to travel to see people in their own countries was important. So too was the willingness of Sir Bobby Charlton, in particular, to spend time during visits helping to develop the game especially with young people. Campaign visits to other countries were never solely about the face to face meetings with FIFA Executive members. We always cultivated the local media and made it a matter of principle to do some coaching or development work with young people in the country concerned. In this context Sir Bobby Charlton was a unique and invaluable asset to the Campaign.

  6.19  Stressing the importance of the British Government's commitment to staging the World Cup was also a very important part of our message overseas. FIFA Executive members expect to see clear signs of national support and in particular that of government. The Prime Minister's public involvement and personal interest in the Bid was of great value and the presence of the Sports Minister on the overseas lobbying visits proved critical and underlined the commitment of the Government to the Bid's success. We were particularly fortunate in having a minister who was a genuine football enthusiast with an intimate knowledge of the game. Without question this went down extremely well with FIFA members who perhaps had met once too often politicians who possessed a passing awareness of football rather than a genuine commitment to it. FCO Ministers, such as the late Derek Fatchett and Peter Hain, lobbied governments when on overseas visits and when receiving Ministers and guests in London.

  6.20  The Embassy and High Commission network also underlined the Government's commitment to the Bid. British Ambassadors and High Commissioners became very involved in promoting England's case. On all overseas visits the ambassadors and their staff helped to organise the English Bid's itinerary and accompanied the 2006 ambassadors on their presentations and lobbying discussions as well as often hosting a reception, bringing together the national football authorities, government, business etc.

  6.21  In order to co-ordinate the effective use of British Embassies and High Commissions the Campaign appointed a former ambassador, Mr Frank Wheeler, to the post of International Adviser. Based initially part-time at the Foreign and Commonwealth Office this became a full-time job, ultimately based at FA headquarters at Lancaster Gate. It had been the Manchester Olympic Bid that recommended such a role on the international lobbying campaign, advice that proved in the context of England 2006 to be absolutely correct. In terms of political intelligence gathering, especially on the attitudes of governments, intentions of FIFA members and on activities of the rival bids, and the implementation of the overseas programmes the Foreign and Commonwealth Office network proved invaluable.

  6.22  Many Government initiatives on behalf of the Bid were thereby generated. Regular communication with FIFA members became a key role for Ambassadors and High Commissioners and, in certain cases with governments, for example Saudi Arabia and Qatar, where it became clear early on that the final decisions on World Cup 2006 would be taken not by the FIFA members but by their governments and ruling royal families.

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Prepared 27 March 2001