Select Committee on Culture, Media and Sport Minutes of Evidence


Supplementary memorandum submitted by the Football Association

THE FOOTBALL ASSOCIATION'S RESPONSE TO CRITICISMS MADE OF ENGLAND'S BID IN THE FIFA INSPECTION GROUP REPORT ON THE 2006 WORLD CUP

  The commentary that follows represents the Football Association's response to criticisms made or below average marks ascribed by the FIFA Inspection Group in the attached report[12]. The commentary and numbered references follow the order of the report itself. A copy of the England's Technical Bid Document, to which the FIFA report refers, is in the House of Commons Library.

  As the report points out (pages 3 and 4), the FIFA Inspection Group's assessment was based principally on the Technical Bid Documents submitted to FIFA by the five candidates on 9-10 August 1999. Marks based on this documentation awarded by the inspectors are shown in Column A of the chart on pages 6 and 7. A subsequent, but less crucial, marking of the bids (Column B) was awarded 30 days after the inspection, taking account of clarifications obtained during the inspection and further information provided by the candidates. FIFA marking was on a scale of five (Excellent) to one (Unacceptable) (page 4).

GOVERNMENT APPROVAL AND GUARANTEES (2.2 AND 3) (PAGE 6)

  England was initially given a marking of three (Approval) and two (Guarantees) (Column A), as FIFA did not receive guarantees from individual UK Ministries. At no point was the FA advised that these were required. FIFA issued candidates with a draft Goverment declaration covering all guarantees. The FIFA List of Requirements stated that:

    "By signing the Government declaration mentioned under Section 2.2, Appendix A, the President or Prime Minister and other government agencies officially undertake to comply with guarantees requested by FIFA on behalf of the Government of the country concerned."

  Two signatures were requested on behalf of "the government authorities". The England declaration was signed by the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport, the Rt Hon Chris Smith and by the then Minister for Sport, Tony Banks, who obtained guarantees from the relevant Government Departments. FIFA questioned the validity of Mr Smith's signature. The Prime Minister responded to this in a letter to the FIFA President on 5 January 2000 confirming that all the necessary Government guarantees were in place. Even this Prime Ministerial declaration and guarantee were not enough for FIFA, whose Inspection Group, for unexplained reasons, could bring itself to award a mark no higher than three (Column B).

SECURITY (3. 4) (PAGE 6)

  Despite the inspectors' claim that no specific guarantee was received, the FA provided a written guarantee within the Bid documentation. Furthermore, a formal security guarantee was included in the overall Government guarantee mentioned above.

  Nonetheless and despite the FIFA Inspector's admission in their Summary of Comments on England's Bid (page 20) that "England's ability to host major football competitions in a secure and safe fashion, particularly as demonstrated in Euro '96 is evident", marks of (only) three were awarded in both Columns A and B.

HOTEL CONTRACTS (4.3) (PAGE 6)

  England was awarded a mark of 2 (Column A), raised subsequently to four (Column B).

  FIFA required compliance with a standard form contract with hotels, which had been created by Byrom, a firm based in England. Initially FIFA's stipulations in relation to the contract and the services of Byrom were uncertain. The FA was not made aware of the importance of Byrom's role.

  FIFA's sample hotel contract was considered by the UK hotel industry to be extremely onerous and unworkable, (the industry may have had previous dealings with Byrom and its approach though the Ryder Cup). Among other requirements, the contract stipulated fixed-price room rates seven years before the event and that FIFA would be charged only for rooms actually used. Byrom Consultants witnessed these objections at regional hotel meetings around the country arranged by the FA, but no substantive changes were made to the model contract.

  When the FA came to submitting their Bid Document in August 1999, it was able, reflecting the implacable position of the hotel industry on the Byrom model, to incorporate only a general, non-binding agreement with hotels in the Bid. Informed during the inspection visit that unless FIFA's sample agreement was accepted, England's Bid would be considered non-compliant, the FA, with considerable help from DCMS and then only with great difficulty, prevailed upon the hotel industry to conform with FIFA's requirements. Even then, it was on the understanding that the hotel industry's reservations would be considered were England chosen to host the World Cup.

  Understandable though the UK hotel sector's objections may be, their position proved an obstacle to England's Bid and resulted in low marks being awarded. It clearly is an issue upon which Government, the sports authorities and the hotel sector need to work together if future bids are not to be jeopardised. The role of Byrom and their model caused difficulties with the hotel industry. We have seen Mr Bitel's evidence. We note that Mr Bitel had, or has, some form of relationship with Byrom, we believe, as legal adviser.

EXPENDITURE (6.1) (PAGE 7)

  England was awarded a marking of three in both Columns A and B. FIFA questioned whether England could stage a World Cup with a budget of (only) US$170 million.

  England's budget was calculated with great care by Deloitte and Touche over a period of a year and verified by them before submission. England would have been able to stage a World Cup with relatively less net capital expenditure than most candidates. Many of England's stadia already meet FIFA standards while others planned, under construction or being enlarged will be completed whether or not the World Cup is hosted here. Thus net capital expenditure on infrastructure would be comparatively modest.

  England's budget was discussed in detail with the FIFA inspectors and no specific queries were raised. A marking of only three is unwarranted: effectively what should have been an advantage for England over its competitors—excellent existing stadia and consequently less additional capital outlay—was apparently found unconvincing by FIFA, who marked England down.

REVENUE (6.2) (PAGE 7)

  FIFA again awarded marks of three and three. Their only query was why income related solely to ticket receipts. Before the Bid submission, FIFA were unable to clarify key revenue aspects, such as what marketing rights were to be granted to host nations. As a result, and, with hindsight, perhaps mistakenly, Deloitte and Touche agreed with the FA prudently to work on a worst case scenario excluding income from the Local Organising Committee or value in kind.

  Once again the revenue issue was discussed with the FIFA Inspection Group, who raised no specific issues. If England's revenue predictions were based upon a wrong assumption, the inspectors should have said so, whereupon revised estimates would have been submitted, allowing a higher mark to be awarded under Column B.

TECHNICAL INFRASTRUCTURE (8) (PAGE 7) AND STADIA CHART (PAGE 9)

  England's stadia were rated three (Column A) and subsequently five (Column B). In the stadia chart (page 9) and Summary of England's Bid (page 20), FIFA pointed out that at three grounds "the dimensions of the pitch in combination with the space behind the goal line and along the touch line did not meet the requirements. However, within the 30-days extension the written guarantee that the measurement will fully meet FIFA requirements was submitted from each stadium owner".

  Four other grounds (Leicester, Derby, Liverpool and Sheffield (Hillsborough) were said by the FIFA inspectors not to "meet FIFA's minimum seating requirement of 40,000 seats, excluding media (approximately 2,000 people and VIPs)".

  On both counts the FIFA inspectors were technically correct. However, as to pitch size and space behind the lines, FIFA readily accepted that this was easily remedied and promptly accepted guarantees that this would be done. On the second count that four stadia, all of them seating more than 40,000 but not 42,000 did not conform, FIFA admitted that these grounds were superfluous, as England had nominated 15 venues in all and far more than the eight or so actually needed for the tournament easily met FIFA's standards.

  On these technicalities, FIFA rated England three (Column A), the principal rating, in August 1999, raising this to five following the inspection and submission of guarantees from the three clubs. German stadia were, however, rated five out of five and South African three out of five. In this, and it could be no oversight, FIFA were not comparing like with like. FIFA found technical fault, easily remedied, at modern, English grounds which already existed and which in all other respects met FIFA standards, comparing these with German and South African stadia several of which are still on the drawing board or await completion, or, indeed, which might never be built. For example, none of the South Africa's stadia, some designed and used for rugby and cricket, currently comes anywhere near to meeting FIFA needs for covered seating. FIFA, moreover, chose to make no qualitative assessment between England's modern, custom-built stadia and those in South Africa and even Germany. The stadia charts blandly show only capacity and projected dates for building or renovation to be completed. Given the formidable financing demands of large stadia building programmes (viz Wembley) and the risk of financial and time overshooting, FIFA, were, in the FA's view, both wrong and unfair to prefer the hypothetical to the real and, above all in this key infrastructure sector, failing to give credit to England where it was due. In faulting England for easily remediable, minor points, the FIFA Inspection Group applied double standards. That several FIFA Executive Committee members—not supporters of England's bid—should have poured scorn on the inspectors' assessment offers objective corroboration that justice was not done.

INTERNATIONAL MEDIA CENTRE (2) (PAGE 7)

  Marks of three and three were awarded with the "remark" that "three proposals were made, but not seen—no firm plans".

  The FA deliberately offered FIFA a choice of potential media centres rather than nominating one. Wembley Arena and Conference Centre were viewed by the relevant inspector, Richard Read, during the course of the visit. Additional information was requested by and given to him during the inspection visit, which appears not to have satisfied the Inspection Group that adequate provision would be made. FIFA failed to explain why.

SUMMARY: ENGLAND (PAGE 20)

  In summarising their findings on England's bid, the FIFA Inspection Group rehearsed the strengths of England's case and criticism of shortcomings they had identified. One new criticism was raised:

    "It has been brought to the Inspection Group's attention that the England bidders' behaviour was not always in compliance with the FIFA "Recommendations to National Associations interested in bidding to organise the 2006 FIFA World Cup final competition" and that they have been asked to adhere thereto again."

  When the report was published a few days before the vote, the FA, concerned in particular that this criticism might be interpreted by some as implying irregularity or even corruption on the part of England's bid, sought an explanation from FIFA. Having consulted the Chairman of the FIFA Inspection Group, FIFA's General Secretary categorically refuted any suggestion of impropriety by England's bid. He alluded to two (trivial) incidents—the over-enthusiastic use of promotional banners at the South American Congress and to England overrunning its allotted 15 minutes in its presentation at that Congress.

  Whatever may be the justice of such minor criticisms, a similarly over-enthusiastic use of banners had previously been exhibited by the South African and German bids at the African Congress in Ghana and most bids overran their allotted presentation time, others by far more than England, without rebuke, let alone it counting in the final ranking of candidates.

FINAL RANKING (PAGES 24 AND 25)

  The FIFA Inspection Group's Final Unanimous Ranking of the five bids was:

FirstGermany Very well qualified
SecondSouth AfricaVery well qualified
ThirdEnglandWell qualified
FourthBrazil/Morocco Qualified


  The definition of "well qualified" was: this includes bidders which complied with FIFA's requirements after being given extra time. The bid has satisfied the majority of FIFA's requirements and is an excellent bid.

  The Inspection Group added that their assessment and ranking reflected all the considerations covered in their report but gave no weight to political issues.

THE FOOTBALL ASSOCIATION'S VIEW

  The outcome of the Inspection Group's report was exceedingly surprising and disappointing for England's bid, the Government and the many people, including Parliamentarians, who had helped the campaign, which objective observers agreed had been conducted in a highly professional way. Indeed, despite the decision of FIFA to award the 2006 World Cup venue to Germany, England's bid was regarded by many as having been the best.

  England's final ranking by the FIFA inspectors behind Germany and South Africa on technical merit was not, in the FA's view, supported by the facts. Certain criticisms made by the inspectors were arguably justified, but in no way detracted from England's ability to stage a successful tournament. Far too much weight was given to procedural considerations and form—whether information was in the form apparently required by FIFA in August 1999—and too little to content, ie the material strength of the competing bids. Similarly, too much weight was placed by the inspectors on the promises to meet requirements and too little on infrastructure already in place. Above all, to have rated, on 9-10 August 1999—the date on which the inspectors principal assessment was made—England's excellent, modern stadia as inferior to Germany's and no better than South Africa's, was a travesty of justice recognised by those familiar with the current state of football grounds in the three countries. Not only was it damaging to England's chances of hosting the World Cup but it was also unfair to all those who have worked so hard to make England's football grounds the best in the world.

  The FA's view of the Inspection Group's assessment, was shared by many FIFA Executive Committee members. At the Committee's meeting immediately before the vote, David Will of Scotland, in roundly criticising the report and rebuking its authors, was joined by several other members, even Africans with a candidate of their own to support. Having had first-hand experience of England's stadia and organising ability, they rejected this key aspect of the report as biased and unsound.

  As the written evidence submitted by the FA on 8 December explains, the withdrawal of South American support of England in the final month of the campaign and hooliganism at euro 2000 were largely responsible for spoiling England's prospects. However, the release of the Inspection Report just a few days before the vote, although given little credence by some FIFA members, might possibly have swayed others, such as those Asians who had promised or who were expected to back England, or given them respectable cover for switching allegiance.

January 2001


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