England 2018 bid chief executive floats Fifa reform proposal

December 5, 2010

England 2018 bid chief executive Andy Anson has called on the world’s major football associations to come together and put Fifa under pressure to reform.

England spent £15m (US $23.6m) on its 2018 World Cup bid, but attracted just two votes. “It might be time for big countries – the US, Australia, Spain, ourselves – who feel this has been handled badly, to make our opinions felt,” he said.

“If anyone is going to do it now is the time and we should act quickly,” Anson told Radio 5 Live’s 606 show

England crashed out in the first round of voting on Thursday after gaining only the votes of Englishman Geoff Thompson and one other Fifa Executive Committee member, with Russia winning the right to host the 2018 competition.

Australia fared even worse than England in the contest to stage the 2022 tournament, picking up just one vote in Zurich.

“We’ve talked to the Spanish, American and Australian bid teams and there is a lot of anger there,” added Anson.

“Australia spent $40m of government money on their 2022 bid and they have been left frustrated, while the US also still can’t believe that they lost out to Qatar in the same vote.”

Anson wants to see the World Cup voting process widened to include Fifa’s 208 national football associations, rather than be decided by the organisation’s executive committee.

“There are number of executive committee members that have been on it for 25 years and that is never a healthy scenario,” said Anson.

“Maybe it is time to look at having term limits of four to eight years,” he added, referring to how long members should sit on the ExCo.

“It feels like a brotherhood that has been together for a very long time and are incredibly protective of this cushy nice life that they have. People move in or out very infrequently and they have no desire to change.

“It would be nice if something happened within Fifa, but making that happen requires 105 members to make any significant change so it is a really tough task.”

Anson was barely able to contain his frustration that England’s technical bid – widely viewed as the strongest of the 2018 bidders – appeared to carry so little weight with Fifa’s ExCo members.

“The whole technical process is flawed. We spent £3m on our bid book, but the books weren’t released until two weeks before the vote and that gave nobody time to digest them.

“They were supposed to have been released in September but it was lost in the noise of the last two weeks of campaigning. We’re pretty sure only three people asked for the full bid book and looked at it.

“We’ve been told they some didn’t even read the executive summaries, but just looked at the risk matrix.”

And Anson questioned whether it was worth nations like England and the US bidding for future tournaments.

“It’s going to be 50, 60, 70 years before we have the World Cup again. That would be sad because it would be an amazing event.

“No-one cares about football as much as England and it’s sad that we’re not even getting close to having a World Cup here.

“The process needs to be more clearly defined in terms of what FIFA is looking for.

If we’d known the defining factor is that going to new frontiers is going to be 90% of the decision and only 10% down to whether it would be a good WorldCup, if we’d known it was going to Russia or Qatar, or in the future China, we’d probably never have bid.”