Eng­land are added to the list of shamed World Cup bid­ders.

Eng­land tried to in­dulge in the same grubby pol­i­tick­ing as ev­ery­one else, writes Richard Jolly

The National - News - Sport - - FRONT PAGE - sports@then­ational.ae

There is a tra­di­tion in English foot­ball of ap­ply­ing as­ter­isks to set­backs. They are losses that are some­times not deemed de­feats, ex­its where ex­cuses are im­me­di­ately avail­able. The Un­der 21 team con­formed to a fa­mil­iar trend on Tues­day by de­part­ing the Euro­pean Cham­pi­onship un­beaten, ex­cept on penal­ties. Eng­land no longer re­gard death by shootout as a moral vic­tory but, on and off the pitch, there can be the sense that they have gone with pride in­tact.

It was the im­pres­sion the English Foot­ball As­so­ci­a­tion sought to give when their bid to host the 2018 World Cup failed in 2010. Given the in­sti­tu­tion­alised cor­rup­tion at Fifa – sus­pected then, proved since – it was easy to ar­gue that Eng­land suf­fered for re­tain­ing their prin­ci­ples.

They were less likely to coun­te­nance murky deal­ings with the ne­far­i­ous types who abounded in Fifa’s up­per reaches. They were Vic­to­ri­ans who found them­selves ill-equipped to ne­go­ti­ate with the mafia. Or so it seemed.

So the full 422-page re­port by Fifa’s then ethics in­ves­ti­ga­tor Michael Gar­cia must make for em­bar­rass­ing read­ing in English foot­ball’s cor­ri­dors of power.

The FA were deemed guilty of act­ing im­prop­erly in try­ing to ac­com­mo­date the wishes of the Fifa vice-pres­i­dent Jack Warner who, de­spite stiff com­pe­ti­tion, may have been the shadi­est char­ac­ter at even world foot­ball’s gov­ern­ing body.

They made a bee­line for a man now banned from foot­ball-re­lated ac­tiv­ity for life and fac­ing ex­tra­di­tion to the United States to face fraud and money-laun­der­ing charges.

They en­sured a Warner ally was parachuted into jobs at Tot­ten­ham Hot­spur and As­ton Villa, a rev­e­la­tion that prompted jokes about Tim Sher­wood.

The in­tegrity of the bid­ding process, Gar­cia con­cluded, was dam­aged by Eng­land’s in­ad­e­quate re­sponses to the dis­rep­utable Warner’s de­mands. They courted the cor­rupt.

The FA’s plan to play an in­ter­na­tional friendly in Thai­land in ex­change for votes was branded “a form of bribery”. There was talk of “col­lu­sion” be­tween Eng­land and South Korea, prospec­tive 2022 World Cup hosts, at a meet­ing at­tended by the Duke of Cam­bridge and the then prime min­is­ter. They broke rules.

In short, Eng­land tried to in­dulge in the same grubby pol­i­tick­ing as ev­ery­one else. They just weren’t very good at it. They pro­cured two votes, one from their own rep­re­sen­ta­tive, Ge­off Thomp­son, in a cam­paign that cost £18 mil­lion (Dh85m). They were aware of the cul­tures of kick­backs and favours at Fifa.

They cer­tainly were not cleaner than clean, beaten only be­cause the game was rigged and they re­fused to play by its rules. To their credit, the FA of­fered more trans­parency to Gar­cia than their Rus­sian coun­ter­parts, who al­leged com­put­ers con­tain­ing in­for­ma­tion about their bid had been de­stroyed. Equally, as the least suc­cess­ful 2018 bid­ders, they had most in­ter­est in the process be­ing dis­cred­ited.

It does mean Rus­sia’s meth­ods re­main ob­scured; sus­pi­cion of quite how they were so per­sua­sive is un­der­stand­able. But it prompts re­newed ex­am­i­na­tion of an English fail­ure that can­not be ex­plained by a re­fusal to coun­te­nance il­licit tech­niques. There was al­ways some­thing pre­pos­ter­ous in pre­sent­ing Prince Wil­liam, David Cameron and David Beck­ham as “the Three Lions”, sup­pos­edly su­per­star diplo­mats who would sweep ev­ery­one else aside in a blaze of charm, some­thing they proved con­spic­u­ously in­ca­pable of do­ing. Much like Cameron in his blundering at­tempts to ca­jole the Euro­pean Union into do­ing his bid­ding, the FA found them­selves with too few al­lies abroad. The Gar­cia re­port il­lus­trates they need to be bet­ter to con­jure more sup­port from (hope­fully) more up­stand­ing del­e­gates. Be­cause the other em­bar­rass­ing el­e­ment, be­sides the as­sess­ment of their con­duct, is how few votes the FA se­cured when, with Eng­land’s sta­di­ums, ge­og­ra­phy, his­tory and foot­balling cul­ture, it ought to be one of the coun­try’s most able to stage a suc­cess­ful World Cup.

The FA were deemed guilty of act­ing im­prop­erly in try­ing to ac­com­mo­date the wishes of the Fifa vice-pres­i­dent Jack Warner who, de­spite stiff com­pe­ti­tion, may have been the shadi­est char­ac­ter at world foot­ball’s gov­ern­ing body

An­thony Devlin / AFP

Then Bri­tish prime min­is­ter David Cameron, right, Prince Wil­liam, cen­tre, and Eng­land 2018 am­bas­sador David Beck­ham dur­ing bid­ding in 2010.

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