England World Cup bid never had chance – sports minister

LONDON, (Reuters) – England would never have launched  a bid to stage the World Cup in 2018 if world governing body  FIFA had said at the outset that it wanted to take the  tournament to new frontiers, British sports minister Hugh  Robertson said yesterday.

He told delegates at the Leaders in Football conference that  if FIFA had been more open about its objectives, the British  government and the Football Association would never have spent  15 million pounds ($23.14 million) on producing a brilliant bid  which FIFA had no interest in.

“Looking back now I wish we had had the gumption and the  knowledge at a very early stage to realise that FIFA wanted  something fundamentally different from what we were putting on  the table,” Robertson said.

“We were saying we could run the best possible football  tournament and the evaluation commission ruled we had the best  technical bid.

“The problem was that wasn’t what FIFA wanted. They wanted  the opportunity to take the next World Cups to markets they had  not penetrated in any way before, so actually it did not matter  how good our bid was, we were never in the game at all.” England, which hosted the World Cup in 1966, bid to stage  the tournament along with eventual winners Russia and joint bids  from Portugal/Spain and Belgium/Netherlands but were eliminated  in the first round of polling among members of FIFA’s executive  committee. England’s bid received just two votes, one of which  was from its own representative.

Russia, which had never staged the finals before, won on the  second round of voting with 13 votes ahead of the two  joint-bids.

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