FA humiliated as England come last in 2018 race
Fifa motives and media influence questioned as World Cups go to Russia and Qatar
England's doomed bid to host the 2018 World Cup failed to get beyond the first round of voting in Zurich, humiliating the FA and making 2010 a disastrous year for English football after the national team's dismal showing in South Africa.
As Fifa president Sepp Blatter announced that the tournament would be held in Russia it emerged that the English bid, for which there had been high hopes thanks to the efforts of Prince William, David Beckham and David Cameron in Zurich, was the first to be eliminated. It finished fourth out of four.
The fact that the bid, once the favourite, fell at the first hurdle is hugely embarrassing for the FA, but indicates how low England's stock has fallen with Fifa.
As the inquest into England's defeat gets underway, questions are being asked about Fifa's motives in awarding the 2018 tournament to Russia - and sensationally choosing Qatar as the hosts in 2022 - and about the media's influence on England's chances.
Earlier this year the England bid was rocked when FA chairman Lord Triesman was forced to resign after a sting by the Mail on Sunday. The eventual winners Russia were also angered by negative reporting about their fans and infrastructure in the British media.
However, the most damage appears to have been done by investigative pieces exposing corruption inside football's governing body.
Two of the men who should have been voting on the bids in Zurich were absent because they had been suspended following an article in the Sunday Times which accused them of offering to sell their votes. The newspaper claimed Amos Adamu from Nigeria and Reynald Temarii from Tahiti had asked for favours from undercover reporters posing as lobbyists.
Then, on Monday of this week, the BBC programme Panorama alleged that three other senior officials had taken bribes in the 1980s and 1990s. Fifa dismissed the allegations out of hand.
But much of the negativity around the bid was dispelled in the final hours before the vote as Beckham, Cameron and Prince William pressed the flesh in Zurich, while England's final presentation on Thursday morning was widely accepted to have been the best of the contenders. Yet it cut no ice with the delegates.
Within minutes of Sepp Blatter's announcement, the backlash began and cynics were quick to suggest that Fifa's decision to choose Russia and Qatar was influenced by more than footballing concerns.
Times sports writer Oliver Kay tweeted that Fifa was a "joke of an organisation" and golfer Rory McIlroy summed up the thoughts of many by announcing: "Fifa only interested in the CASH!!"
Observers also pointed out the irony of Russia winning the tournament on the same day that the latest WikiLeaks revelations had the country being described as a "virtual Mafia state". ·
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