Select Committee on Culture, Media and Sport Minutes of Evidence

Memorandum submitted by the Football Association



Immediate Causes of England's Defeat

  11.1  As the Bid Diary (para 9.56) describes, the campaign team's own assessment at the beginning of June 2000 was that England stood a good chance of gaining the 13 votes needed for victory. In the face of opposition from its own parent Confederation and from a standing start with no prior commitments of support whatsoever, England had come a long way in three years. The assessment was, we believed, realistic and conservative. While still hopeful of attracting two Europeans in addition to David Will of Scotland, England's 13 votes did not include or depend upon them. Our prognosis was conditional, knowing that, apart from the six core votes (Scotland, New Zealand, Trinidad & Tobago, United States, Costa Rica and Thailand), our support depended upon picking up votes resulting from the successive elimination of other candidates—Brazil, Morocco and South Africa. Furthermore, we were much aware that events largely beyond our control—inter-Confederation deals and hooliganism at EURO 2000—could destroy England's chances.

  11.2  And so it proved. The immediate causes of England's defeat were three-fold: first, inter-Confederation deals—South America switched (second preference) support away from England to Africa. The South Americans had throughout the campaign dismissed African bids as sub-standard, but, knowing that Brazil could not win, they ultimately judged it expedient to try to extract some advantage from the 2006 contest. They did so by asking Africa to promise support for Brazil's 2010 bid, in exchange for Brazil's withdrawal from the 2006 contest and South America giving its three votes to South Africa. Ironically, their support away from England yielded them no profit, with South Africa's narrow defeat by Germany and the deal falling away. Separately, and apparently in the last few days, Germany and EUFA did a deal with Asia. Thailand, which was thought by nearly all to support England, and Saudi Arabia, whose vote we expected once Morocco was eliminated, joined their fellow Asians in voting for Germany in the second round.

  11.3  Secondly, FIFA's deferment of its decision on 2006 from March until July 2000 proved disastrous for England. Whether the true reason, as stated by FIFA, was to allow the bidders to make presentations to the six Confederation Congresses or whether someone had calculated that postponement could boost South Africa's chances if there were trouble at EURO 2000, we may never know.

  11.4  Thirdly, English hooliganism at EURO 2000 (a fortnight before FIFA's decision) not only deprived England of a possible two European votes—and critically two less votes for Germany—but also turned sentiment within FIFA and more widely against England. "Why should we reward hooliganism?" or "How can FIFA reward a country whose fans show so little respect for the game?" were understandable reactions, which coloured the attitudes and intentions of FIFA members. In the view of many of them, England did not now deserve to win.

Underlying Causes of England's Defeat

  11.5  Undoubtedly, the so-called Gentlemen's Agreement, mentioned many times in this report, was a prime cause of England's defeat and a thorn in our flesh throughout the campaign. It was not just our failure, as a direct result of the Agreement, to secure any European votes apart for David Will's, for we might just have won without them. It was the fact that EUFA leaders, and the German Bid in particular, consistently denigrated England's bid and good name, making The FA's alleged dishonouring of the Agreement a key issue in their campaign. With England's reputation thus already in question, however unfairly, we had less credit upon which to draw when English hooliganism resurfaced at EURO 2000.

  11.6  An even more fundamental cause of England's failure was The Football Association's and English football's relative lack of influence in both European and world football. Following the retirement of Sir Stanley Rous and for much of the Havelange era, made worse by enforced withdrawal from European football following the Heysel tragedy, English football, while latterly flourishing at home and particularly commercially, had adopted an insular attitude, seen by some UEFA and FIFA members as stand-offish and even arrogant. While things had improved by early 1990's, and the successful EURO '96 tournament brought England fully back into European football, the fact is, that for a long time, England had not been punching its weight as one of the top football nations. Our thin representation on the governing bodies of UEFA and FIFA and in their Secretariats, committees and panels was both a consequence and a cause of our lack of influence. Closer relations with our UEFA partners might well have avoided the misunderstanding of the so-called Gentlemen's Agreement.

  11.7  England's Bid was made in the knowledge of these major disadvantages, which we thought we could, in time, largely overcome. Indeed, we nearly succeeded. Yet, there can be no doubt that UEFA's failure to support, or rather hostile opposition to, England's Bid deprived us of:

    (i)  inside information on what was happening within UEFA and FIFA;

    (ii)  ability to influence attitudes and decisions within these governing bodies;

    (iii)  an ability to make deals.

  In the final round of voting for 2006, Confederation discipline was absolute, each FIFA member voting as part of a Confederation bloc. Germany, with EUFA's help, was able to put together a deal with the Asian Football Confederation. The South American and African Confederations made a deal benefiting Brazil and South Africa, even if it proved unsuccessful. England could not effectively treat with the other Confederations on its own and without UEFA's backing.

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Prepared 27 March 2001