England look to minimise World Cup bid damage

15 November 2010 08:30

England 2018 bid leaders have sent a letter to all FIFA executive committee members to try to repair the damage caused by two media investigations into World Cup bidding.

The letter, from England 2018's chairman Geoff Thompson - who is also a FIFA and UEFA vice-president - and bid international president David Dein, attempts to distance the campaign from the Sunday Times and BBC Panorama investigations.

The letter, a copy of which has been seen by Press Association Sport, states: "We hope England's bid will not be judged negatively due to the activities of individual media organisations, regardless of one's view of their conduct. We hope you appreciate that we have no control over the British media."

The members of the 24-man FIFA executive committee are assured the organisation would receive a positive reception from the British media should England win the bid for the 2018 tournament against Spain/Portugal, Russia and Holland/Belgium.

England 2018 admit the Sunday Times sting, which has led to FIFA members facing an ethics committee hearing this week, caused significant harm to their campaign and they fear a Panorama programme to be screened three days before the vote could cripple the bid.

The letter also states that it was England 2018 who first alerted FIFA to the bogus company which turned out to be a front for the Sunday Times investigation.

It adds: "Rest assured we have done all we can to assist FIFA and its members during recent weeks. It was members of the England bid which alerted the FIFA general secretary, on September 29, to the activities of a bogus company which turned out to be the Sunday Times investigation.

"We kept him informed on regular occasions as we conducted our investigation into this company."

The letter also confirms bid chief executive Andy Anson visited BBC director general Mark Thompson to raise concerns about Panorama, as was revealed by Press Association Sport 10 days ago.

"Furthermore it is now public knowledge that we have made representations to the BBC regarding a forthcoming documentary they are planning," the letter adds. "We are alerting you to fact that the programme appears in part to be raking over allegations some of which are up to 10 years old and have already been formally dealt with by FIFA and the Swiss courts."

Source: PA