Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Are We Happy to Do Whatever It Takes to Jump into Bed with This Man?

Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Are We Happy to Do Whatever It Takes to Jump into Bed with This Man?

Article excerpt

Byline: James Olley

REGARDLESS of whether England's 2018 World Cup bid is successful tomorrow, there must be a collective push among all nations for FIFA to show greater transparency and accountability.

There is something wholly unsavoury in the last-minute clandestine lobbying going on in the conference rooms of Zurich's most salubrious hotels.

The World Cup is marketed as a paragon of virtue capable of facilitating socio-economic progress that far transcends football -- remember FIFA's "mission" to "develop the game, touch the world, build a better future" -- yet that ideal is awkwardly juxtaposed with the political bargaining at the heart of the bidding process.

It is not arrogance but a statement of fact that England's bid is the best from a technical standpoint -- the facilities, infrastructure and profit margins are allied to a steep history and passion for the game.

Staging the tournament on these shores would create a new wave of patriotism, boosting the economy and enhancing the World Cup legacy FIFA so proudly promote.

But that is not enough. Bids are simply not judged purely on their merits -- deals must be struck, favours agreed and mutual back scratching acquiesced -- all designed to woo enough of the committee members into leaning your way. When analysing how to win the bid, the Football Association determined that campaigns tailored to each member must be fought, leading to concerns that the luminous cavalry headed by Prince William, David Cameron and David Beckham will not understand the nuances of this negotiation.

While England's celebrities look to work their magic, principal rivals Russia play down the significance of the star names, acutely aware that the devil is in the detail.

Within such unaccountable mirth, the proclivity for mischief is plausible. Rumours of corruption in FIFA's corridors of power reached deafening levels some years ago and yet their president remains systematically reluctant to fully investigate. Sepp Blatter must be taken to task.

Much was made of Panorama's expose and the timing of its airing on Monday night but if England's bid fails, the programme will not be to blame.

The allegations made by the BBC centred on transactions that took place between 1989 and '99 involving supposed secret payments made through the now defunct International Sports Leisure company to FIFA officials totalling $100million.

There was nothing to suggest the present World Cup bidding process has been compromised in the manner that the Sunday Times alleged Amos Adamu and Reynald Temarii were offering votes for cash.

The duo have been suspended, meaning it is likely only 22 will now vote tomorrow and if Panorama can substantiate claims that Issa Hayatou, Ricardo Teixeira, Nicolas Leoz and Jack Warner are guilty of wrongdoing, action must be taken but it has come too soon to affect change before tomorrow. …

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