Examination of witness (Questions 180
THURSDAY 8 MARCH 2001
180. I have questions as to whether or not they
would have won those wherever the Olympics were but that is another
matter. You mentioned the Gold Coast then, and this is something
which does make the point about facilities. The Gold Coast which
has a population, I think, of about 60,000 peopleplus a
large number of holiday makers of coursehas more Olympic
standard swimming pools than the whole of the United Kingdom.
Australia has 118 Olympic swimming pools in total, we have five.
(Professor Tomlinson) Yes.
181. It is no wonder that Australia wins gold
medals at swimming.
(Professor Tomlinson) No, that is true. If you combine
facilities with some of those characteristics and very, very importantly
appropriate backing in terms of time and specialist personnel
then obviously you will hope to get positive outcomes from that.
182. Is it not better, therefore, to build a
swimming pool and to have the facilities to ensure that our athletes
then do very well at the next Olympics, wherever they might be,
rather than concentrating a lot of money and effort on facilities
and getting these facilities in one city or in one area to ensure
that we get the Olympics at some point in the future, and my bet
would be 2020 is probably the first feasible date?
(Professor Tomlinson) I would agree with what you
say there because in lots of ways the key challenge in terms of
sports development and in terms of one's reputation in Olympic
circles is to do with excellence in performance and achievement
wherever the events are held. I think it can become a very big
diversion to become obsessed with the staging of the events themselves
and it deflects and diverts such a vast level of resources away
from precisely what you are saying, the grass roots in terms of
facilities, development and provision.
183. Could I just interrupt here because you
have raised a matter very dear to my heart which I do not want
to slip and that is this. Would it not be better for Sport England
to invest a very small amount of money into helping the Wright
Robinson Sports College in my constituency to build a sports hall
to train young athletes of the future rather than get entangled
massively in this spider's web of Wembley Stadium which is grief
(Professor Tomlinson) In terms of the grass roots'
argument which I think I conclude with in my written evidence,
I think that is true. I think there is a tragedy in British sport
at the moment in some of the big boom sports of recent decades.
Take athletics in particular, which was the big boom sport and
rich sport of the 1980s. We see such a dreadful lack of infrastructure
that I think it is close to a scandal in this country. After we
have been a nation with top gold medallists and world champions
for some years, and in a sport which was bringing the biggest
level of television money in at a key stage of transformation
of the wider economy of sports, we now have athletics stadia going
to rot and local clubs looking with great problems for somewhere
to flourish. I think that is a real indictment of the United Kingdom's
position in terms of sports policy and development. I do think
to get the grass roots right, the base of the pyramid in the common
metaphor, is utterly critical.
184. Would you therefore agree with me that
it would do more for British football if Scotland won the World
Cup than if the World Cup was actually held in England or not?
(Professor Tomlinson) The World Cup is a very, very
tricky issue because British football, English football is such
a sensitive issue in worldwide FIFA terms because of the special
privileged status of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern
Ireland to have so many teams. It is still on the agenda of people
in FIFA that there should be one Great Britain football side.
185. Not in terms of Scotland there is not.
Can I, however, suggest to you is it not a bit of a myth that,
in fact, the United Kingdom, Britain, does not get major sporting
events? After all, we have had had the Olympics since the Second
World War, we have had World Cup football since the Second World
War. Why should a small nation of 55 million people on the fringes
of Europe expect to get these major sporting events? We have one
of the major golfing events, we have one of the major tennis events.
(Professor Tomlinson) Formula One.
186. We have the World Championships in badminton,
cross-country, whatever it might be, across the whole country.
Why should we expect to get these particular events?
(Professor Tomlinson) My view is that we should not
expect to get them. One of the problems in the bidding process,
and I will come back to England 2006 here, is that if we do expect
to be seen to have the strongest case we can be seen to be acting
rather patronisingly and, in a sense, almost close to arrogantly.
What the world sports' governing bodies do like is what I would
call a can-do culture rather than a have-done culture. If you
go out suggesting that we should be able to stage this event because
we are the best, because we are the home of football, for instance,
because we have dear old Wembley Stadium, which a lot of the world
does not give a damn about, then in lots of ways people will think
"what are you talking about?" We are in a different
187. Can I just carry on from exactly where
you are at the moment. In your written evidence to us you note
that in one of our Reports we described the 2006 bid as "well
conceived, well managed and well executed".
(Professor Tomlinson) Yes.
188. And we said that Government support has
been exemplary. But you go on to say that the English bid was
always doomed. Are you criticising our description of the bid,
ie the bid itself, or are you saying that for other reasons the
bid was always doomed?
(Professor Tomlinson) I am not criticising the description
of the bid. In a sense I am realistically putting the bid in the
context of what the wider process is. There may have been obviously
exemplary characteristics of the bid and so on, and again the
FA has written about this quite reflectively in its long written
evidence to your Committee, but there were reasons, factors, why
the bid never really stood a chance.
189. Such as?
(Professor Tomlinson) One of the strongest ones was
the very widely discussed gentlemen's agreement between Sir Bert
Millichip and colleagues in UEFA about Germany having a run through.
190. In fairness to the FA, in their evidence
to us they acknowledged that absolutely. I actually spent the
last day reading their evidence, which is a potboiler in itself,
a description of how they went around the world.
(Professor Tomlinson) A good thriller.
191. I have also read the FIFA Technical Report
which was presented before the meeting. I would suggest that that
report is arrogant, not the behaviour of our bidding team. You
said a moment ago that we are perceived as being arrogant. Some
of the remarks about our bid in this report simply cannot be accurate,
cannot be true, and they themselves are arrogant.
(Professor Tomlinson) No, I agree with that. They
certainly are because they have the power.
192. If I can just quote one to you. They summarise
their findings in the Technical Report by saying "It has
been brought to the inspection group's attention that the England
bidders' behaviour was not always in compliance with FIFA recommendations
to national associations interested in bidding to organise the
2006 World Cup Final competition and they have been asked to adhere
thereto again". It sounds like a school master ticking off
a naughty school boy. It is extraordinary.
(Professor Tomlinson) It can be an exchange of arrogances
in this kind of process, there is no doubt about that. The wider
issue about the Technical Report is whether those reports were
ever conceived seriously and can be taken seriously at all. Again,
what I said earlier was, in fact, if you go into that process
saying "we have got everything in place", it is the
"have-done", it is "already there", "we
are the best sort of emphasis", rather than the can-do culture
which these organisations prefer to support.
193. I understand that and I understand you
are saying this is not necessarily your view but how it is perceived
in the rest of the world. Having read the Technical Report, if
I were the gentlemen sitting behind you who had slogged all around
the world trying to sell this bid, my heart would have sunk when
I read this. We are rated lower than South Africa on security
which just seems absolutely astonishing. Some of our stadia, newly
built, were rated lower than stadia where the first sod of earth
had not even been dug. This report clearly went a long way towards
convincing some peopleit may have come too late for manynot
to support our bid and it is patently and manifestly wrong.
(Professor Tomlinson) It is wrong, there is no doubt
about that. You have to see that these documents are not produced
on any basis of rational logic and objectivity, they are produced
in terms of the dynamics of power and the blocks of interest within
those organisations. The Chair of the Technical Committee is one
of the biggest movers in the politics of world football now, the
man who ran the USA 1994 World Cup, Alan Rothenberg. With my colleague,
John Sugden, I have written quite widely on what kind of motivation
drives a figure like Alan Rothenberg. I have asked him face to
face whether he considers what we would see normally in terms
of business dealings as conflicts of business interests as relevant
to the decisions that bodies like FIFA and so on take, and he
said very, very clearly to me "no, there are no conflicts
of interests in these sorts of areas". We have to see the
Technical Reports in this sense as convenient fictions. I am in
full agreement that they cannot be taken so seriously. The point
that I would make is that we cannot be surprised
194. That we are in that position.
(Professor Tomlinson) that this sort of report
emerges out of this kind of process.
195. I assume this is just an extension of what
you have just said, but you say that the hooligan troubles at
Euro 2000 wereyou used the word"irrelevant".
(Professor Tomlinson) I do not believe that they were
relevant to the voting intentions of the members of the Executive
Committee. I think they were a convenient smokescreen for some
football authorities to say "really England could not do
it, this would be too problematic".
196. So given everything you have said, and
given that hopefully Wembley will be built and will once again
hopefully want to bid for another World Cup in due course at some
stage in the next however many years, what do you say we should
do, undergo a complete sea change of attitude as to how we approach
the bid, or are you saying that it is almost physically impossible
for a country like ours that already has an infrastructure? The
other thing that astonished me in terms of the governmental guarantee
was that a letter from the Prime Minister rated lower than a signed
guarantee from a ministry, ie some civil servant in a ministry
of another country could sign a guarantee and yet a personal letter
from our own Prime Minister rated lower than that. Are you saying
that we can never break this culture?
(Professor Tomlinson) No, I am not saying that. I
am saying that one has to enter those corridors of power, exactly
as the FA is now seeking to do and is seeking with its Chairman
having been elected into UEFA Committees, to seek to effect policy
and one has to keep in touch with what I call the geo-politics
of power. It is very likely that the President of FIFA will be
challenged next summer for the presidency. England and the home
nations, if they work together and aspire to look at things in
terms of some general United Kingdom interests, need to be aware
of these sorts of developments and strategically place themselves
clearly around what they see as the most beneficial potential
figures of power but also in terms of some wider principles and
policies. The whole problem with world football at the moment
is that behind a veil of idealist values of wonderful harmony
between nations and an importance of sports for youth, there is
a lot of big business, there are lots of big political deals going
on really, led by people who have no serious interest in sport
and no serious commitment to the broader morals and philosophies
197. Thank you, before I call Mrs Golding, can
I say along the way that when I hear the quality of the questions
from Mr Faber, it is a matter of serious regret to me that he
has decided not to seek re-election to the next Parliament. Could
I put two points. First of all, the approach of these bodies,
to which Mr Faber has referred, is among other things utterly
ignorant. It is interesting to go back, as I have been doing,
to the history of the construction of Wembley Stadium in which
there was no Government involvement of any kind, apart from the
Government guarantee against losses of the whole British Empire
exhibition of 1924. But what is interesting about the opening
of Wembley Stadium is that the first Cup Final held there in 1923
resulted in Government involvement because of the fact the police,
including mounted police, had to be called out because of disorder
among the crowd. So it is not new and this idea that British football
crowds have suddenly become brutal hooligans out of the blue is
absurd. These people ought to know better. Secondly, what Mr Faber
has highlighted, and what we have seen on previous inquiries is
this, these major events are decided not on the basis of the quality
of the case but on all kinds of extraneous matters such as the
personal characteristics of people on the awarding body so that
on our Olympics bid, for example, and the same with the Australians,
they had to go right down to find out names of dogs of the families
(Professor Tomlinson) The size of shoes of partners.
198. It is ludicrous that there should be such
things. In some of the bodies, I am not saying which, there is
obviously blatant corruption. When a country like this, which
is among the leading sporting countries in the world overall,
has its application treated with the disdain that Mr Faber has
mentioned, would you agree that this is a comment upon the selection
process and makes one wonder whether the efforts of the gentlemen
behind you and Mr Banks, who worked his socks off, are worthwhile.
I attended a dinner for some obscure Minister in the Thailand
Government in an effort to wheedlesorry, not a dinner a
(Professor Tomlinson) I agree that it is indisputable
that many of the decisions about the placing of these events are
made on the basis of what you call reasons extraneous to the sports,
that is indisputable. My point consistently is that we know that
but very few people, very few nations, very few sports organisations
feel able to stand up and say this because as I say, I have said
before, these organisations are on the whole unaccountable. They
claim to speak for the world body of their sports and so on and
they are usually accountable to something like the notion of the
congress, which happens once every couple of years, or once every
few years and the kinds of issues that arise at those sorts of
congresses can be dealt with very quickly in terms of block votes
of nations around motions and so on. The key question is, would
a nation be willing to state explicitly from the heart of its
sports administration what you, Mr Kaufman, have just stated.
As far as I can see in terms of the International Olympic Committee
and FIFA the answer on the whole is no. Sometimes some people
have tried like Lennart Johansson on behalf of, if you like, the
European bloc of nations and some of the African ones in his bid
to become FIFA President, asking for transparency, asking to open
up what he called the black box of FIFA's economy and look what
happened to him.
Chairman: Mr Maxton has asked me to point
out that the appeal for funds by the Prince of Wales for the Empire
Exhibition, including the building of the Wembley Stadium, which
incidentally took one year, April to April, was responded to by
a grant of £100,000 from the City of Glasgow Council.
199. Do you not think that some of the decisions
made in the funding of sport, right across the board, are often
inexplicable, not only based on ignorance but based on not really
bothering to find out what they are doing? A subject which is
very dear to my heart, fly fishing, if you remember Sport England
turned down the funding of the International Fly Fishing Championship
in England on the grounds it was of no account but gave money
to blind golf in the same budget. It seems to me there are a lot
of people who are giving out money to things and do not bother
to ask the questions. They are not really concerned about promoting
high standards in sport, all they are interested in is giving
(Professor Tomlinson) The theme of staging international
sports events is a very interesting catalyst for a lot of wider
issues and this is one of them. What is the fundamental rationale
for sports policy for different forms of funding: the public,
the private, the mixture of public-private around different sports
developments? In this country our problem has been that there
are so many institutional organisational stakeholders that it
has been very difficult to get right down to the basics and establish
who speaks for these constituencies and the constituency of high
level sport, and its relationship to building the necessary layers
in sports performance and sports development. The obvious outcome
of that will be rather ad hoc, you used the word inexplicable,
rather ad hoc and rather difficult to account for certain sorts
of decisions about who gets what and why. My own view is that
around the theme of staging international sports events which
is about the public, obviously, as well as the excellent performers
and the elite performers, we do need probably to look at a fundamental
review of sports policy provision and development in this country.
200. Do you think that we should have one minister
responsible for doing that with the power to alter things and
bang heads together?
(Professor Tomlinson) Some of us have observed the
necessity for that for probably a generation now.
Chairman: Professor Tomlinson, thank
you very much. Your viewpoint on this has been of great value
to the Committee. Thank you.