England 2018 leaders have admitted that an undercover investigation into FIFA by a British newspaper has "significantly damaged" their bid to host the World Cup.
Two FIFA executive committee members, Nigeria's Amos Adamu and Tahiti's Reynald Temarii, have been suspended pending a FIFA ethics committee hearing after allegations in the Sunday Times that they asked for money for projects in return for World Cup votes. They deny any wrongdoing.
The investigation has caused an anti-England backlash among FIFA members and there are now fears that a separate BBC Panorama programme due to be screened before the vote on December 2 could doom England's hopes completely.
England 2018's admission comes after Mohamed Bin Hammam, the president of the Asian confederation and one of the 24-man executive committee who will vote on the 2018 and 2022 World Cup hosts, condemned the Sunday Times investigation as "unethical".
A senior England 2018 source said: "This has significantly damaged England's bid because the FIFA executive committee feel they are being targeted by the English media."
England 2018's strategy in the remaining weeks is to try to persuade FIFA members that they should not be held responsible for the media.
England also remain hopeful that their bid will be judged the strongest when the FIFA technical inspectors' report into the bids comes out later this month.
FIFA's ethics committee are also investigating separate allegations that Qatar's 2022 bid has colluded with the Spain/Portugal 2018 bid, something forbidden by bidding regulations.
Bin Hammam, who is from Qatar, said on his website: "Forging identity, fabricating evidence and setting traps are unethical behaviours in my point of view.
"One thing about Middle East media, these are rare happenings there."