Select Committee on Culture, Media and Sport Minutes of Evidence

Memorandum submitted by the Football Association



  12.1  England's Bid to host the 2006 World Cup patently failed. Nonetheless, The FA believe that the Bid was not entirely in vain, for it achieved:

    (i)  its secondary objective of raising the profile of English football and sport overseas. The exigencies of the Bid compelled the campaign team to undertake a world-wide programme of visits, primarily to the 24 FIFA countries, but also to tournaments and meetings elsewhere and to other important football nations. Apart from brief contacts at FIFA Congresses or at matches in the early rounds of the World Cup finals, FA officials, over the previous twenty years, had had relatively few substantive dealings with world football leaders, especially from developing countries outside the Commonwealth. Repeated campaign visits to Botswana, Mali, Qatar, Trinidad, Thailand and Paraguay, for example, together with exhibitions, coaching led by Sir Bobby Charlton and Sir Geoff Hurst, gave new visibility to English football, supplementing the world-wide television coverage of the English leagues;

    (ii)  respect accorded by football leaders, rival bids and the international media to England's campaign and Bid as a highly professional venture. It served as an exemplar and advertisement for English football overseas;

    (iii)  lasting friendships with FIFA members and other football leaders, which if built on by The FA (now a high priority of FA policy), will translate into a much better understanding of English football by others and knowledge of world football by The FA. Football is a contact sport in all senses. Personal relationships are the basis of international sports administration and essential to the success of any bid;

    (iv)  a greatly expanded Overseas Development Programme. While The FA had been for years providing technical assistance, most recently under the Meridien Project in Africa but also much more widely, England's Bid team, as it went around the world meeting football leaders, inevitably received further requests for help with football development. Audiences, watching English football on television and aware of the sums of money paid as transfer fees or for television rights, understandably believed that such a wealthy football nation could and should be of help. The Bid team rightly and necessarily made a sharp distinction and separation between its campaign activities and requests for technical assistance, which is referred to the FA Overseas Development Group. Yet there can be no doubt that the Bid, in widening The FA's exposure to football in the developing world, gave an impulse to the Programme, which will expand and continue long after the Bid;

    (v)  the prospect that, when Europe next hosts the World Cup after 2006, England will be UEFA's front-runner and natural choice. Setting aside joint-hosting, not encouraged by FIFA, relatively few European countries are capable of hosting a modern World Cup and most of these have done so and more recently than England. If England can overcome its hooligan problems and improve its standing in European football, the tournament should return here.

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