Select Committee on Culture, Media and Sport Minutes of Evidence

Memorandum submitted by the Football Association



July—August 1998: Reviewing Progress

  8.1  Immedidately following the World Cup, ISL, FIFA's designated marketing agency, gave a reception in the elegant surroundings of the School of Fine Arts in Paris. Johansson was there and in conciliatory mood. A first meeting took place over dinner with Angel Maria Villar Llona, the Spanish FA President, recently elected by UEFA along with Dr Joseph Mifsud of Malta, to the FIFA Executive. Neither had been party to the contentious Gentlemen's Agreement, allegedly struck between UEFA and England, and were thought by the campaign team to be less committed to voting for Germany and thus a target for lobbying. At the UEFA election that May, when they had been voted on to the FIFA Committee, they had displaced Mayer-Vorfelder of Germany and Koloskov of Russia. The former, if he had retained his place on FIFA, could have played a central role in promoting Germany's World Cup bid on the inside of the FIFA Executive. His departure, coupled with Germany's poor showing at the World Cup in France and the murder of the French policeman, led to a lowering of morale in the German FA, under heavy criticism from its domestic press, and to the appointment of Franz Beckenbauer as Vice-President. Another guest at the ISL reception was HRH The Sultan of Pahang, the Malaysian President of the Asian Football Federation, but not himself a FIFA member. A meeting was secured with him and Peter Velappan, the influential AFC General Secretary. Both at that time appeared sympathetic to England's Bid.

  8.2  The World Cup in France seemed a natural break-point in the campaign—the end of Stage I. Undoubtedly, the next stage would be tougher. We could expect Germany to pursue a more active campaign. Australia, after a successful Olympic campaign, had just announced it would bid for the 2006 World Cup, (but later withdrew). South Africa, under its able Campaign Director, Danny Jordaan, a former politician, was making provocative remarks about England's stadia and crime rate, in part in response to British media reports highlighting the alarming South African statistics for violent crime in major cities. England's policy was to emphasise the considerable merits of its own Bid, but generally to refrain from criticising its rivals' campaigns.

  8.3  After nine months of serious campaigning, it was time for the team to profit from the holiday break to review its prospects. England had two certain and publicly announced votes, Scotland and New Zealand—no more. Increasingly frequent and close contacts with CONCACAF might, it was thought, mature into three votes from that region. The Asian vote, we judged, would split, Korea backing Germany, while the other three might support England. In South America, we had been assured that CONMEBOL favoured England over Germany. Africa remained an unknown quantity and yet to be visited, but its Confederation President was close to and had voted for Johansson, and Germany had a long-standing government sports aid programme in Africa. The prospect was not bright. Our task in Europe was to erode the Gentlemen's Agreement and to try to gain a couple of votes there. England's fundamental weakness was that it lacked the backing of its own Confederation. However, by contrast, England's appeal to voters outside its own Confederation appeared to be strong and greater than that of Germany and Brazil and possibly South Africa too. The campaign team concluded that it should persevere with a policy, which seemed to be yielding dividends, of patient diplomacy, visiting FIFA members in their own territory. Government-to-government on those countries whose governments would influence that vote was another crucial element, as was continuous cultivation by British Heads of Mission overseas of FIFA members and constant contact, by email, fax and phone, between the campaign team in London and the FIFA 24.

  8.4  The lobbying team, spearheaded by Sir Bobby Charlton or Sir Geoff Hurst along with the Chairman or Chief Executive of the FA and the Campaign Director, enthusiastically supported by the Minister for Sport, seemed to be a successful formula. Keeping the domestic and international media informed of all positive messages and coping with negative material would continue to be essential.


  8.5  Campaign teams tend to live on their nerves and successes and set-backs at the time appear disproportionately great. Typically, September 1998 opened with good and bad news. Tony Banks and Graham Kelly had been in Zurich for talks with the new President of FIFA. Blatter, grateful for England's support of his candidacy, was looking forward to coming to England to open the Preston North End Football Museum later that month and would preside over the draw for the Worthington Cup. A sign of England's increasing acceptability and reintegration into the football councils of the world was the imminent appointment of Sir Bobby Charlton to the FIFA Players' Committee and of Keith Wiseman to the FIFA World Cup Organising Committee. Turning to 2006, Blatter repeated his wish that the tournament should soon be held in Africa, but he made it clear that an African candidate would have fully to meet FIFA's Requirements. Three days later, England played Sweden in Stockholm. The Swedes subsequently claimed that England fans had caused considerable damage to the stadium. Support work for England's Bid continued with a meeting in Birmingham with representatives of local authorities in cities which would host the World Cup, if England were selected. Filming of a new Bid video began.

  8.6  Welcome visitors included Ismail Bhamjee of Botswana and the Secretary-General of his association, Ashford Mamelodi, who spent a couple of days at The FA examining its structure, organisation and activities and drawing lessons which might be applied in his own country. Another visitor was Worawi Makudi of Thailand, keen to discuss youth football and help with the selection of a coach for the Thai national squad. As with most visitors, the Bid arranged with the Premier League for him to see a game, on this occasion a London Derby between Chelsea and West Ham.

  8.7  It was around this time that rumours began to circulate of a possible deal between Germany and South Africa. The South Africans would concede that Germany should host the tournament in 2006 and the four African FIFA members would support Germany. With up to seven votes from UEFA, four from Africa, plus Korea, Germany would be virtually assured victory. In return, UEFA would support South Africa for 2010, with the same votes cast and the offer meanwhile of technical help and perhaps funding to ensure that the South Africans would be ready. It was not a deal which struck the England campaign team as likely to be acceptable to the South Africans, who were convinced that their turn should come in 2006 and were confident of winning wide FIFA support. And indeed, South Africa and CAF apparently rejected German overtures. A more worrying prospect for England would have been if UEFA and Germany had done a deal according Africa priority and UEFA support for 2006 in return for Africa backing Germany for 2010. Both parties, it seems, were too impatient and confident of securing victory in 2006 to make the necessary concessions. England, very much on the fringe, could only watch and await the outcome of such manoeuvres.


  8.8  Of major interest to the Bid was a one-day visit on 5 October to Madrid to see the Spanish FA President and newly elected FIFA member, Villar, whose support the campaign team believed might be won over time. The Chairman of the FA, Minister for Sport, Sir Bobby Charlton, Alec McGivan and (Spanish-speaking) Frank Wheeler led the party. The programme began with a convival lunch, followed by a formal presentation of the Bid at the Spanish FA. Disappointingly, Villar made clear that despite his admiration for English football and his conviction that England could host a highly successful World Cup, he would be joining his UEFA colleagues in voting for Germany. In private exchanges, hints were dropped that things could change over the next 18 months. Perhaps the door was not entirely closed. Sir Bobby Charlton appeared at length on the main Spanish TV sports programme. A well-attended reception was given by the British Chargé d' Affaires, while other team members briefed the Spanish media.

  8.9  On 26 October, Joseph Blatter, came to London to see the Prime Minister. As always, Blatter gave a polished performance. Speaking to Tony Blair and afterwards to the press, he repeated his wish that the 2006 World Cup should go to Africa, but reassuringly for England, underlined that an African bid would have to comply fully with FIFA Requirements. Sir Stanley Matthews, Gordon Banks and others from England's football hall of fame were present at a small reception in Blatter's honour given in the gilded splendour of the Foreign Office Locarno Suite. Blatter was also present at a lunch in Zurich the next month hosted by the British-Swiss Chamber of Commerce at which Sir Geoff Hurst was the guest speaker. He took the opportunity to rebut unfounded South African criticisms of English stadia, a strong feature of England's Bid and not to be compared with the rugby grounds which the South Africans could offer.


  8.10  It had proved extremely difficult to organise a visit to Cameroon and Mali, air links between the two countries being infrequent. England had a lot of ground to make up in Africa, although The FA, under the UEFA-CAF Meridian Agreement (with Malawi, Lesotho and Botswana) was giving football aid to the three African countries. Few of the Bid team, apart from Sir Bobby Charlton, were familiar with the African scene. It was particularly important to get close to Issa Hayatou, the Cameroonian President of CAF and a Vice-President of FIFA. Although his authority had been somewhat undermined by Africa's failure to back Johansson for the FIFA Presidency, Hayatou was a man of considerable stature and influence in world football. With the help of the British High Commission in Yaounde, the visiting party, which included the Minister for Sport, was able to talk at length with Hayatou. They discussed also FA involvement in an innovative project in Cameroon by Voluntary Services Overseas to improve the lives of young people through sport. Some coaching advice from Sir Bobby Charlton and a visit to a sports exhibition put on by the local British Council added colour to the visit.

  8.11  Mali had become a target with the election in February that year of the President of the Malian FA, Diakite, to the FIFA Executive. Together with Bhamjee of Botswana, they replaced Ram Ruhee of Mauritius and Fahmy of Egypt, still Secretary-General of the African Football Confederation, CAF. Much the same pattern was followed in Mali where, at their request, The FA agreed to give advice, drawing upon its expertise in putting on the successful EURO '96 tournament, with a major regional tournament to be held in Mali in 2002. Both African FIFA members confirmed they would support an African candidate for 2006, but with several rivals in the field, it was unclear which country this would be. Hayatou, while emphasising that Africa's cause would be best served by uniting behind one candidate, remained impartial (unlike the President of UEFA).

  8.12  There followed a further visit to Qatar where the UK-Qatar Sports Memorandum, raised during the visit in April, was high on the agenda. The FA invited Qatar to participate in the Under 15 Nordic Tournament, to be held the following year in England, and to send their squad to a summer training camp. Qatari sports officials were invited to visit Centres of Excellence in England, and other sporting events and exchanges other than football were agreed.


  8.13  Following the visit of President Menem to England in November 1998, when he had reiterated his personal support for England and had signed a UK-Argentine Sports Memorandum, Grondona, the Argentine FA President, came to London together with the Secretary-General of CONMEBOL, Deluca. They visited Chelsea and Manchester United football clubs, heard a Government briefing on the Bid and were guests of honour at a Government lunch at Lancaster House. Grondona restated his preference for England over Germany and was dismissive of South Africa's prospects. Al-Dabal, of Saudi Arabia, a frequent visitor to London, was the personal guest at dinner of Lord Marshall, Chairman of British Airways, a main sponsor of the Bid. BA went to considerable lengths to be helpful in arranging flights for the campaign team.

  8.14  Worrying for the Bid was a report in the Financial Times that the Prime Minister, doubtful of England's success, was withdrawing active support for England's campaign. Such an authoritative source ensured that the report was repeated not only in the domestic media but by the agencies and hence throughout the sports pages of the world. It was the first of several totally misleading reports. Right up to the final decision, the Prime Minister and Government stood firmly, and indeed enthusiastically, behind the Bid.

  8.15  In mid-November, Sir Bobby Charlton had been invited to be the guest of honour at a gala dinner of the Manchester United Supporters' Club in Malta, one of the oldest and largest supporters' clubs in the world. It seemed a good occasion to pay a first visit on Dr Joseph Mifsud, who had, earlier that year, been elected to the FIFA Executive. Receiving the English delegation in the offices of the Malta FA within the national stadium, Mifsud was sharply critical of The FA's failure to respond to his invitation to send the England team to take part in the Centenary celebrations of the Malta FA in 2000. Caught unawares, The FA team promised to look into it urgently and moved quickly on to a presentation of its 2006 Bid. It was an occasion on which Tony Banks was at his best. His vast knowledge of football and evident enthusiasm for the game and for his club, Chelsea, allowed him to talk to FIFA members in their own football language and establish an immediate rapport. Another Minister, even if competent and well briefed, could never have established the close rapport with FIFA members whose sole interest in life was football. Sir Geoff Hurst, who joined the party, gave a coaching session to young Maltese players. Plans were discussed for a British sports week, which the British High Commissioner thought would go down well in Malta. Coincidentally, HRH Prince Edward was in Malta and showed interest in the Bid. It was difficult to conclude that Mifsud would support England, but as a new member of FIFA and one not on the UEFA Executive at the time back in 1993, when allegedly the Gentlemen's Agreement was reached, he might feel less bound by it than some of his colleagues apparently were.

  8.16  Towards the end of the month Chuck Blazer of the United States came to England, visited Arsenal and Chelsea as well as Sky Television. New measures were formally announced by the Government to deal with convicted soccer hooligans, who might be planning to cause trouble at overseas matches.

  8.17  A week before Christmas, Sir Bobby Charlton and Alec McGivan went to Bangkok, where Thailand was hosting the Asian Games. What proved to be a useful visit, deepening the relationship with Worawi Makudi, was somewhat overshadowed by criticisms in the British media of Peter Withe's appointment as Technical Director to the Thai FA. Makudi rightly rebutted suggestions that Withe's appointment had been made conditional upon Thailand supporting England for 2006, while The FA sought to put Withe's contract in proper perspective, citing the help which The FA was giving in many countries, which would not have a vote on the venue for the 2006 World Cup.


  8.18  A major set-back for The FA and the Bid was in the offing. The FA Council was asking its Chairman, Keith Wiseman and Chief Executive, Graham Kelly, to account for a payment of £400,000 to be made by The FA to the Welsh Football Association. It was no secret that The FA was increasingly dissatisfied with the fact that England, despite being one of the big five of European football, was a member of neither the UEFA nor FIFA Executives, on which the four home unions of the UK were represented by David Will of Scotland. It would have been much better for England to be on the inside and able directly to promote its bid. Among the home Football Associations there was deadlock, with England and Wales favouring Will's early departure, (which was resisted strongly by Will himself) and the Northern Ireland and Scottish FAs taking the opposite view. Keith Wiseman and Graham Kelly maintained that the proposed payment to the Welsh FA was a justifiable continuation of previous loans, but their failure to go through the accepted channels of approval by The FA Executive left them exposed and they felt compelled to resign. It was a sad chapter for The FA and for the campaign team, as it will have appeared to many that the reason for the payment was support of the Bid. While the story got sensational coverage in British media, members of the FIFA Executive, many themselves current or past Presidents of their national FAs, were well accustomed to the vicissitudes of football politics and were, it seemed, less bothered by problems at Lancaster Gate. Even so, the campaign, and for that matter The Football Association, could not afford such turmoil and bad publicity. Geoff Thompson, Vice-Chairman of The FA, served as Acting Chairman until his election as Chairman six months later, while David Davies, Head of Public Affairs, and experienced at handling frequent crises, was appointed Executive Director pending the selection of a new Chief Executive.


  8.19  Not all of the campaign team were able to relax over the Christmas and New Year period as preparations proceeded for the Cannes Football Expo in mid-January. England was congratulated by its rivals upon its stand. In an increasingly competitive atmosphere, the English, Germans and South Africans displayed their wares. There was talk among FIFA people present about the World Youth Championships, which were to take place in Nigeria in April. FIFA recognised that they had taken something of a risk in designating as host country Nigeria, where local conditions might be very different from those enjoyed by young players in the top European clubs. England's campaign team listened and said little, knowing that Premier League sides were already voicing great concern about releasing players to join England's Under 20 squad in Nigeria, where treatment of serious injuries might not immediately be available. For the Bid team this was yet another challenge and one which was likely to put The FA, if persuaded that it was essential to take part, at odds with Premier and Football League clubs. Joe Mifsud of Malta spent a weekend in England and had talks about European football issues as well as the World Cup with the Acting Chairman of The FA. Mifsud reminded Geoff Thompson that he had not yet had a positive reply to his invitation for England to play Malta in the summer.

  8.20  Having visited the President of UEFA in Stockholm, the Acting Chairman of The FA and David Davies travelled to Zurich to explain to the FIFA President the changes that had taken place at the top of The FA, following the recent resignations. In a discussion about the World Cup, Blatter revealed that FIFA was about to issue Guidelines for 2006 bidders, which had been under discussion for some months. In response to Davies' question, Blatter confirmed that he had no concerns whatsoever about the way in which England had been conducting its campaign. The issue of these Guidelines a few days later was wrongly seen by the media as a knee-jerk reaction to the International Olympic Committee scandal, which had broken loose a few days before, resulting in recommendations to expel six IOC members.


  8.21  In the second week of February, Jack Warner, President of CONCACAF, paid a four-day visit to England, which included talks with The FA and British Government, visits to Manchester United and other football clubs. He saw the England v France match at Wembley—2006 branding visible on the perimeter boards and in the banqueting hall. France, the world champions, showed their class in beating England 2-0. The English media at that time were consumed by the resignation of the England coach, Glenn Hoddle, following some unguarded remarks in a press interview, and with the search for a successor. The German bid campaign seemed, at last, to be on the move with reports of a visit by Beckenbauer to Qatar and Kuwait and the announcement that FIFA revenues at a World Cup in Germany would be tax-free.


  8.22  While the main task and tactic of the Bid had always been contact, and persuasive contact, with the FIFA Executive, much supportive activity was constantly going on behind the scenes, one example being a workshop for Bid Sponsors—briefing them on campaign progress and on future activities, while ensuring that they were satisfied with the recognition they were getting from their support.

  8.23  On 5 March, Per Omdal, President of the Norwegian Football Association, a close ally of the Swedish President of UEFA, Johansson, came to London. This first, formal exchange skirted around the vexed issue of the Gentlemen's Agreement. On the campaign trail, Sir Bobby Charlton went to Brussels and Paris to brief the international press, and then on to Strasbourg for a very well-attended reception for MEPs. In the middle of the month, Bhamjee of Botswana spent three days in England. Like many other members of the FIFA Executive, he was guest of honour at a Government dinner at Lancaster House before going to the North-East to inspect the stadia and talk with club officials at Newcastle and Sunderland. At around that time, the campaign team was reassured by final confirmation that shareholders of Wembley Plc had approved the sale of the stadium to The FA and the English Sports Council, allowing development work to proceed. There were to be further problems ahead with the redevelopment of Wembley.

  8.24  Having visited Cameroon and Mali and had many contacts with the Botswanan FIFA representative, it was time to visit the fourth African FIFA representative, Slim Aloulou of Tunisia. Tony Banks and Sir Bobby Charlton led the campaign team to Tunis on 21 March where they made a presentation to the Tunisian Football Federation, had private meetings with Aloulou, attended a reception and dinner given by the British Ambassador and called on The Tunisian Government, while Sir Bobby Charlton did a training session at the El Menzah stadium. Although Aloulou was expected to support an African bid, probably that of Morocco, the ground had to be prepared if England were to aspire to winning his vote in a later round. While in Tunis, the Sports Minister told a journalist from the Daily Express, who was accompanying the campaign team, that he had written to his South African counterpart deploring claims made by Jordaan, the South African Campaign Director, that people had been stabbed and killed during Manchester United's FA Cup victory over Liverpool in January. The allegations were "grotesque". In a sharp exchange, which was to get much press attention, Jordaan said that he had been misquoted, adding that the British media were painting a grossly distorted picture of violence in South African streets.

  8.25  Towards the end of the month, while England were playing at home to Poland and a trio of young Argentine players were training at Manchester United, as suggested by Sir Bobby Charlton earlier in the year, the bid team travelled to New Zealand, by way of Bangkok for talks with Worawi Makudi. They were given a warm welcome by Charles Dempsey, President of the Oceania Football Confederation, and made a formal presentation. Dempsey's public declaration of support for England gave a boost to the visit. Nonetheless, rumours were circulating that the South Africans intended to canvass the Oceania National Associations. It would bolster Dempsey's stand on the issue, McGivan concluded, if the England Bid were to give some attention to the representatives of the Pacific Islands, which, with Australia, comprised the Oceania Confederation. Subsequently, Sir Geoff Hurst was deputed to undertake a short canvassing tour.


  8.26  While England's claim to host the 2006 World Cup was clearly and concisely set out in the "Six Reasons", the Campaign Director had been searching for an innovative theme, which would increase the attractiveness of England's Bid and of holding the World Cup there, and which would also distinguish it from those of its rivals. Many of the footballers who would actually take part in the 2006 World Cup must be still in their early teens. Undoubtedly the future of the game was in the hands of the upcoming generation: "youth" would be an apt and imaginative theme for England's campaign to adopt. Out of this he devised "England's Welcome to the World". Under the scheme, each of FIFA's 203 member national football associations would be invited to choose a dozen young people around 12 years of age and of both sexes to be England's guests at the 2006 World Cup. They would attend some games, stay with English families throughout the country and mix with English children and with the 2,500 young people coming from around the world. They would take back to their countries vivid memories of the 2006 World Cup. All expenses would be met by The Football Association. Following a photocall at 10 Downing Street to launch the initiative, Sir Bobby Charlton said that in 2006, England would be "putting young people first". His words were well received by the international press and by football associations around the world, particularly, the campaign team found, in the poorer countries of the Caribbean, Africa and Asia, most of whose national teams would not qualify for the finals and whose young people could certainly not afford to attend. While some cynics criticised the initiative, it had undoubted appeal. It was a subject much to be discussed when the team made its final presentations to each of the six regional Confederations. Arrangements for launching and publicising "England's Welcome" consumed much of the creative energies of the Bid during the first part of April 1999.


  8.27  At the same time, The FA was grappling with the problems of selecting and sending a team to the FIFA Under 20 World Youth Championships in Nigeria later that month. The FA had concluded that England, a leading football nation and member of the FIFA family and a candidate to host the 2006 World Cup, had a duty and a need to take part. Early reports of conditions in Nigeria suggested that there were serious problems to be overcome, above all with health and safety. Several English club managers had forthrightly stated that they would not want their young players to be there and might refuse to release them. A reconnaissance visit by Chris Ramsey of The FA, subsequently confirmed as Head Coach for the tournament, reported that while the Nigerians still had much to do, an England squad could safely compete in the event. Although standards were not what they should be for a world championship, conditions proved to be far better than the media and some managers predicted. England, sending a "developmental squad", finished bottom of their group, failed to score a goal and were eliminated along with Germany.

  8.28  The finals were an occasion for many of football's leaders to be present. Taking advantage of this, the England campaign team had useful meetings with Jack Warner, the FIFA Vice-President responsible for the tournament and with the Africans, Hayatou, Diakite and Aloulou. The Bid team, including the Minister for Sport, met Blatter and Jordaan, the South African Campaign Director. Both campaign teams, anxious to avoid a war of words, amicably agreed with Blatter and Beckenbauer to refrain from criticising each other's bid.

  8.29  Of the African FIFA countries, Botswana was the last to be visited, the campaign team moving on there from Nigeria. Leading the team was Tony Banks, who had meetings with his Ministerial opposite number and with the Vice-President of Botswana, as well as with the Botswana Football Association. The visit coincided with one of the seminars, which The FA was giving under the UEFA-CAF Meridien Project to help strengthen football administration. Senior officials of the Malawi and Lesotho Football Associations joined their Botswana colleagues for a two-day workshop devoted to issues such as tournament management, handling the media and attracting sponsors.


  8.30  Jack Warner, President of CONCACAF, invited the 2006 campaign team, which included Sir Geoff Hurst, to make a presentation to the CONCACAF Executive in New York on 3 May. Also there, were Chuck Blazer, General Secretary and a FIFA member, and Alan Rothenberg, formally head of US Soccer, a practising Los Angeles lawyer and organiser of the FIFA Women's World Cup to be held in his city in July. Even more important from the Bid's point of view, was the possibility—rumours were circulating—that Rothenberg, a confidant of Blatter, would be a member, if not the Chairman, of the FIFA inspection team for the 2006 event.

  8.31  Malta was next on the agenda, where the British High Commission had organised a British Sports Week. Several British sports specialists lectured at a seminar and Sir Geoff Hurst gave a coaching session. At a dinner hosted by the High Commissioner, the Acting Chairman of the Football Association, Geoff Thompson, was able to talk with Dr Joseph Mifsud, the Malta FIFA representative and with the Maltese Minister responsible for sport.


  8.32  The next two weeks were given over to preparing for what was to be the major event in the 2006 campaign. All the FIFA Executive, together with other football leaders, had been invited to attend the FA Cup Final on 22 May. At that time it was thought to be the last Cup Final at Wembley and the last opportunity before the vote, then fixed for March 2000, for The FA to be hosts to FIFA. Not wanting to fall foul of the FIFA Guidelines for bidding nations, The FA consulted the FIFA President about the propriety of inviting all 24 members of the Executive. Blatter was not entirely comfortable with the idea, but when he put the proposal to the Executive, they, including the Europeans, were virtually unanimous in insisting that the invitation should be issued and accepted. Blatter asked that invitations should not be sent through FIFA but to Confederation Presidents, who would designate who should represent each confederation. In the event, sixteen of the twenty-four attended. Blatter declined as did three of the Asians, who either had conflicting engagements or who were put out at not receiving their invitations direct. Coping with around eighty guests for a four-day programme placed very heavy demands upon the campaign team, assisted by volunteers from The FA, and interpreters. Every detail had to be right, from the moment each first arrived, often in the small hours, until their departure—the red roses for their button-holes, special meals for the vegetarians and arrangements for prayers for the Moslems. If The FA could demonstrate that it could put on both meticulously and with flair a series of events centred on the Cup Final, the FIFA Executive might conclude that it was capable of organising a successful World Cup.

  8.33  A very heavy programme for the visitors included a welcoming dinner at the Four Seasons Hotel, where all the guests stayed, and lunch the next day at Highgrove, kindly extended by HRH The Prince of Wales. All the guests were introduced individually to Prince Charles to their obvious delight, particularly of many of the wives. In the evening, The Prime Minister was host to FIFA representatives at a Government dinner at 10 Downing Street. On the Saturday, a reception and lunch were offered by The Football Association at Wembley Stadium, followed by the match itself. As one of the "Six Reasons", advanced in support of the Bid, was England's attraction as a tourist centre, it was essential to evidence this by giving the visitors a taste of the London scene. The FA arranged a gala dinner at the Natural History Museum—a splendid venue—where an orchestra played and stars sang songs from famous London shows. The next day the visitors enjoyed a boat trip, with lunch, on the Thames. In addition to the detailed planning which went into every aspect and movement of the programme, each campaign member had to be briefed on the FIFA guests and debriefed afterwards. Although little substantive business was, in fact, done, much goodwill was generated. FIFA members, for example, those from Africa unfamiliar with the English football scene, made clear that they were greatly impressed with what they had seen and what had been organised for them. We had set a standard which would be demanding upon the competition.

  8.34  Many of the FIFA Executives then travelled to Barcelona for the European Champions' League Final. Manchester United's victory over Bayern Munich was a great hour for the international standing of English football, but was soon to cause difficulties when they were called upon to play in the World Cup Championship in Brazil.


  8.35  At the Cup Final dinner, the Prime Minister had spoken with Johansson, President of UEFA, about the Gentlemen's Agreement. Tony Blair urged Johansson to use his influence to improve the strained relations between England and UEFA. There had clearly been a misunderstanding over the Gentlemen's Agreement. The Europeans should be allowed to make up their own minds as to whom to support for 2006. Johansson promised that he would advise European FIFA members to vote according to their own consciences. When the UEFA Executive Committee met a few days later in Barcelona, Johansson indeed told European FIFA members to vote as they thought fit. However, what he had given with one hand, he took away with the other, by adding that, so far as he was concerned, a Gentlemen's Agreement had been reached with England, which he intended to honour. He would vote for Germany. While The Football Association drew some satisfaction from the fact that the "three-line whip" had been formally lifted, it was obviously going to be a huge task persuading individual European FIFA members to defy the influence of Johansson and the UEFA establishment and to vote for England.


  8.36  Early the following month, members of the FIFA Executive visiting London brought a new and disturbing message: Manchester United, now champions of Europe, must represent UEFA in the FIFA World Club Championship to be held in Brazil in January 2000. The participation of Manchester United, arguably the most famous club side in the world, was vital not only to the credibility of this new event but also to its financial success. Moreover, failure to attend could lose England the four votes of FIFA members on the Club Championship Organising Committee. The campaign team could only take note and promise that it would do its best, knowing that Manchester United would find it extremely difficult to leave the country for ten days in January, at the height of the season. It was one of many contentious issues which the campaign team had to take up with its national authority, The FA, in an effort to convince it that a sacrifice would have to be made. To make matters worse, the German runners-up, Bayern Munich, whom Manchester United had a week before defeated in Barcelona, would, in January, be enjoying the annual two-week break in the German season and UEFA had apparently already hinted at their readiness to go to Brazil to represent Europe.

  8.37  Throughout June, The Football Association, led by David Davies, wrestled with the problem at successive meetings. Manchester United were adamant that they could not reconcile their already extremely congested fixture list, comprising European matches, the Premiership and the FA Cup competition, with a ten-day absence to represent Europe in the world championship. The FA took the view that the FIFA club championship was an important international tournament and in time would become even more important. England had shrunk from participating in the first World Cup and European Cup—mistakes that had cost dearly and should not be repeated. Manchester United, the undisputed champions of Europe, had the opportunity to be recognised as the world's leading club side—good for them and for English football. Furthermore, if the English club rejected FIFIA's invitation and a German side, Bayern Munich, took it up, England's prospects of staging the 2006 World Cup could be irreparably damaged. Speaking for the Government, Tony Banks said that, while it was a decision for Manchester United and The Football Association, there was nonetheless a national interest, given the committed support of the Government to England's World Cup Bid.

  8.38  Intensive research by The FA and discussion with the North-West club of all the options yielded no easy solution. For example, extending the season or giving Manchester a bye in the FA Cup were not answers. Finally, a consensus emerged that the least bad of several bad choices was for The FA to grant the Manchester club an exemption from the next season's FA Cup competition. The announcement soon after that United would participate in the FIFA competition brought a sigh of relief to the 2006 campaign team. Later, they were disappointed that Blatter, while welcoming the decision, did not seem to appreciate the dilemma FIFA had created or the sacrifice that had been made. Although much of the domestic media recognised that this was the only sensible, although regrettable, outcome, the Daily Mirror, in particular, led an unsuccessful campaign to try to reverse the decision and vilified the Sports Minister for allegedly placing intolerable pressure upon the Manchester club.


  8.39  In mid-June, the campaign team made a third visit to Qatar. As it was clear that the Amir and Qatari government would have a considerable influence upon their vote, the Minister for Sport was keen to have a further meeting with Amir, for which our Ambassador pressed. Unfortunately, the Ruler was not available at the last minute and the delegation called instead upon the Prime Minister and then upon the President of the Youth and Sports Authority. Much of the discussion was about exploiting the UK-Qatar Sports Memorandum, which the Qataris hoped would expand into fields such as sports medicine, scientific centres, help for the disabled, and youth facilities. The Qataris were very pleased at the prospect of their Under 16 team training in England in July and competing in the Nordic tournament there the following month. Bin Hammam, the Qatar FIFA representative, was cautious about his likely voting intentions, although he seemed to be leaning towards South Africa. He urged The Football Association to expand its help to the poorer nations of Asia.


  8.40  In Los Angeles, the FIFA Executive was to meet prior to the finals of the FIFA Women's World Cup. England's lobbyists were staying at the same hotel as the FIFA Executive and were able to meet them and their families over breakfast and have a preliminary chat and helpfully arrange meetings for later, in this way overcoming one of the perennial problems of securing time with each of the FIFA voters. England 2006, along with Germany and South Africa and Morocco, had stands at the soccer exhibition in another hotel where FIFA would have its meetings. A panel on 2006 was held here, where Jeff Powell of the Daily Mail, chairing the session, took a straw poll among journalists and visitors present about the outcome of 2006. South Africa, popular with the media, won by a small margin from England with Germany lagging well behind. A packed stadium, with a family atmosphere and in a temperature of nearly 40C, greeted the finalists, the United States and China, and national television coverage gave a boost to the already very successful women's game in the United States. Discussions with members of the FIFA Executive suggested that England's Bid was looking good. The resignations of The FA Chairman and Chief Executive, doubts about Wembley Stadium and about England's participation in the Youth Championships in Nigeria were yesterday's news and appeared to have done England's prospects no lasting harm.

  8.41  At a press conference in Los Angeles, Blatter announced that FIFA had decided to delay the voting on the 2006 World Cup until July 2000, a postponement of some three months. The additional time would allow each of the five candidates to make presentations to the six regional Confederation Congresses to be held in the first half of 2000. FIFA's decision was taken with scant consultation with the candidates and equally scant discussion in the Executive. It lengthened already extensive campaigns and would add considerably to their costs. Some observers suggested that the Confederations hoped to benefit materially from a succession of visiting circuses and competing auctions, while the English media were quick to spot that the new timing could benefit South Africa. Voting for 2006 would now be held a fortnight after the EURO 2000 tournament in the Benelux countries with a high risk of English and, to a lesser extent, German hooliganism.

  8.42  If South Africa was the media favourite, no clear front-runner had emerged among the FIFA Executive, according to England's analysis at that time. South Africa's bid raised questions, in the eyes of FIFA voters, as to whether the tournament could be held there in safe conditions, whether South Africa could guarantee full attendance and whether internal transport and tournament organisation would be up to standard. Furthermore, Morocco's strong showing made it probable that the African vote would be split. England's campaign was running strongly, but England had yet to win much support in Europe and had, as yet, only two firm commitments outside. Germany had strong support in its parent Confederation but looked unlikely to attract much wider support. Brazil would have to show at the World Club Championship the following January whether it was a serious runner.

  8.43  Presidents and General Secretaries of national football associations from around the world gathered in Los Angeles for the FIFA Congress on 9 July, 1999. Its success as a FIFA "house-building" public relations exercise was seriously undermined by a walkout of the Asian delegates, angry at FIFA's denial of an additional place for an Asian team at the 2002 World Cup. For England's campaign team, silent witnesses to the walkout, its significance for the outcome of the 2006 contest was not to be revealed for a further year, when the enmity between the Asians and the FIFA President proved an important factor in their decision to side with Germany.


  8.44  Sir Bobby Charlton travelled on to Costa Rica, where their FIFA representative Isaac Sasso and his family made him very welcome at their "quinta". Together with Frank Wheeler he went on to Paraguay for the finals of the Copa America, which gave further opportunities to canvass Western Hemisphere voters.

  8.45  On 21 July the FIFA President had arranged that each of the five bidders would formally hand in their Bid Documents at a ceremony at FIFA House in Zurich. It was to be a big public relations event, heavily covered by television. British Airways laid on a brand new Boeing 777 to take the party. Sir Bobby Charlton and Tony Banks presented England's Bid along with Alec McGivan. Michael Owen added his endorsement in a very personable way, which apparently greatly impressed Sepp Blatter. Franz Beckenbauer headed the German team and Danny Jordaan made a typically emotional presentation of the South African bid. Many weeks of work by a small team, led by Hazel Ruscoe, had put together England's Bid Document, which was presented in the form of two beautifully illustrated volumes, together with the innumerable appendices with all the technical detail required by FIFA. Copies of the Bid Document were handed the same day to FIFA members by British Ambassadors and High Commissioners around the world, together with a personal letter from the Prime Minister. It was a milestone in the campaign. Rivalry could only intensify over the next months.


  8.46  At the end of July two appointments were made, which would matter to England's Bid. First, Geoff Thompson, Acting Chairman of The FA, was elected Chairman, and Tony Banks, at his own request, was relieved of his wider duties as Minister for Sport, to concentrate more on England's World Cup Bid as the Prime Minister's and Government's Special Envoy for the Bid. He was to be a major player in the football diplomacy of the final year of the campaign.

  8.47  Next stop for the campaign team was Mexico—Guadalajara and Mexico City—where the FIFA Confederations' Cup was being held. To England's disadvantage, Germany represented Europe, France, experiencing difficulty with the release of players, having stood down. As usual, the value of attendance was in the opportunities offered for meetings with members of the FIFA Executive who were there. Jack Warner of CONCACAF, while never a public advocate of England's bid, was a confidant of the campaign team, regularly offering sound advice as well as occasionally seeking help for Caribbean football. The Campaign Director, promised to refer to The FA Overseas Development Group Warner's wish for a follow-up workshop to strengthen football administrations and to provide training on marketing and handling the media. Omdal of Norway, Bhamjee of Botswana and Al Dabal of Saudi Arabia were among those there. Al Dabal returned via London where he saw Tony Banks, the Special Envoy, who presented him with his personal copy of England's Bid Document under cover of a letter from the Prime Minister. Arrangements were made for Tony Banks and The FA to visit Saudi Arabia and to see HRH Prince Sultan, in the autumn.

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