World Cup – Warner: British media responsible for 2018 failure
Russia were chosen to host the tournament with England humiliatingly sent out in the first round after picking up only two votes from the 22 members of FIFA ExCo.
Three days before the vote, BBC’s Panorama programme accused three FIFA members of bribery and also alleged FIFA vice-president Warner tried to supply ticket touts.
The programme followed a Sunday Times investigation which saw six FIFA senior officials banned for a number of offences including corruption.
FIFA outwardly insisted that the vote was fair and unbiased, although senior members – including Sepp Blatter – publicly rebuked the British media for their actions, ignoring that freedom of speech in Britain prevents the government or FA from censoring news providers.
England – whose bid was widely-regarded to be the strongest technically and financially – were promised at least six member votes but received two fewer than the Netherlands/Belgium bid, with those votes going to Russia in the second round.
That implied a deliberate decision by ExCo members to force England out of the running at the first hurdle, and Warner appeared to confirm this.
“Suffice it to say that the FIFA ExCo as a body could not have voted for England having been insulted by their media in the worst possible way at the same time. To do so would have been the ultimate insult,” Warner said.
Warner’s support was key to England’s hopes – in his role as president of the CONCACAF federation he controlled three votes.
England 2018 insiders say Warner had promised to support them in the days leading up to the vote in Zurich last Thursday.
Bid leaders do not believe the media coverage was the reason for England securing only two of the 22 FIFA members’ votes last week, but a number of members have insisted that was the case including Cyprus’ Marios Lefkaritis, Japan’s Junji Ogura and now Warner.
Meanwhile, the head of Australia’s failed 2022 bid Frank Lowy on Tuesday said that “playing straight” may have cost them the World Cup and that FIFA members lied outright to them about their voting intentions.
Lowy told SBS: “When we started the process we had a meeting with our advisers that we would do nothing improper in the fullest sense.
“I wanted to give credit to Australia and not to get caught in some kind of shonky business, and I can assure you now that we didn’t do anything that was improper in this whole period. Did that cost us the bid? Maybe. I don’t know, I’m not sure. But we are straight and we wanted to play it straight.
“Unbelievable things have happened. Qatar had 11 votes in the first round – one more and the vote would have been over then. I believe some intended to vote for us from the second round onwards and never got the chance, while quite a number just outright lied to us…or they wanted to be nice to me.”