IV. THE ENGLAND BID FOR THE 2006 FIFA
29. The Cricket and Rugby World Cups of 1999 were
successfully secured in sports with relatively limited geographical
bases where rotation between the limited number of countries and
regions with the capacity to stage the events is reasonably well-established.
England's bid to stage the 2006 FIFA World Cup entered a much
more competitive environment and ultimately did not succeed. During
this inquiry we reviewed the bid to examine lessons for public
sector support and for other events.
30. The England 2006 bid had a number of strengths.
The bid was launched from the springboard provided by Euro '96the
highly successful European Championships staged in England in
As we noted in 1999, England already had in place some of the
finest football stadia in the world and there was an expectation
that they would be joined by the new English National Stadium
England was already established as a major tourist destination.
31. The fortunes of the England bid fluctuated during
the extended competition to select the host nation for the 2006
At times, it appeared that the strengths of the bid might lead
However, in the words of Mr Banks, "a number of things conspired
The belief in Germany and beyond that the Football Association
had entered into an informal agreement not to compete for the
World Cup against Germany was, according to the Football Association,
"a thorn in our flesh throughout the campaign".
The Football Association was also required to take sides in the
contest for the FIFA Presidency and made enemies as well as friends
in the process.
The departure of the Chairman and Chief Executive of the Football
Association and of the England Team Coach in quick succession
created the impression that English football was "in a slight
state of disarray".
The uncertainties that arose with the Wembley National Stadium
project from December 1999 onwards helped to ensure that the proposed
transformation of Wembley was not the positive asset that it might
32. FIFA's decision in December 1999 to postpone
the final selection from March to July 2000 increased the period
of time during which further things could go wrong for the England
On 16 and 17 June 2000 in Belgium they did. Outbreaks of hooliganism
in Brussels and Charleroi led to threats to expel England from
the Euro 2000 tournament and brought to the surface fears in world
football arising from England's troubled history of football hooliganism.
33. While confirming that the events in Belgium in
June 2000 put the final nails in the coffin of England's World
Cup bid, the Football Association's evidence showed an admirable
willingness to look at the more deep-rooted causes of England's
failure. The Association noted that a fundamental cause of the
eventual outcome was "English football's relative lack of
influence in both European and World football".
For too long, England had been under-represented in international
football governance, with the nation being perceived as "stand-offish
and even arrogant".
Mr Alec McGivan, Director of the 2006 Bid Campaign, said that
"you ... need political clout and presence in the corridors
of power and that is obviously a lesson that we have learnt".
Professor Tomlinson argued that the England bid was "always
doomed" because of this weakness, suggesting that the England
bid was treated like an uninvited guest at a party in consequence.
34. The triumph of politics over the merits of particular
bids was most clearly demonstrated in the work of the FIFA Inspection
Group. The Football Association had prided itself on the inherent
strengths of its bid and was confident that England would fare
well in the inspection process.
Mr Alan Rothenberg, the leader of the Inspection Group, left England
with warm words for the bid and the facilities offered.
The report of the inspection group that subsequently emerged ranked
England's bid in third place behind those of Germany and South
Africa. The England bid was marked down for Government approval
and guarantees, received a lower marking than the South African
bid for security guarantees, and was reprimanded for not always
being in compliance with the bidding rules.
35. Professor Tomlinson described such technical
studies as reflecting interests within FIFA rather than having
any basis in rational logic and objectivity; he argued that they
were best seen as "convenient fictions".
The creative writing of the technical study is certainly apparent
in the inspection group's initial rating of England's stadia on
a par with those of South Africa and below those of Germany. As
the Football Association argued, the group was both "wrong
and unfair" to compare minor failings in English stadia which
were already built with designs for stadia elsewhere that remained
on the drawing board.
The Football Association understandably described that assessment
as "a travesty of justice".
36. The report of the Inspection Group emerged only
a few days before the final decision on where the 2006 FIFA World
Cup would be held, and was recognised as a less than objective
analysis by some members of the FIFA Executive Committee. Nevertheless,
the study may have given members of that Committee with doubts
about the England bid a respectable cover for switching allegiance.
Mr Banks said that the England bid team was "spitting blood"
at this "total stitch-up".
Mr McGivan thought that the document was "a scandal"
and Sir Bobby Charlton told us of his "sense of outrage"
that many people involved with England's bid had been "insulted"
in this way.
37. In 1999, we noted the strengths of the England
2006 bid and commented on the sporting and wider benefits that
would accrue from staging the FIFA World Cup in England. We concluded
that the Football Association's bid was "well-conceived,
well-managed and well-executed".
While the England bid suffered from certain hindrances that are
more apparent with hindsight, we have no intention of resiling
from our previous unequivocal support for the conception and execution
of the bid. We agree with the Government's view that the failure
was "not for want of commitment or imagination".
We agree with Sport England's judgement that its decision to invest
£3.14 million in the bid was justified.
38. In our previous Report, we also described the
support offered by the Government, most notably the then Minister
for Sport and the staff of British Embassies and High Commissions,
The technical assessment by FIFA found fault in the nature of
guarantees offered by British Ministers, but that appears to have
resulted directly from the FIFA Inspection Group's preference
for form over substance.
Mr McGivan and Sir Bobby Charlton considered that the support
from the Government, politicians of all parties and the Diplomatic
Service could not be faulted and could not have been improved
39. The technical study and the Football Association's
reflections upon the document did highlight one area where support
for bids could be enhanced. The Football Association faced difficulties
in persuading hotels to agree to the "onerous" contract
prepared for the event, because that contract required commitments
about pricing and cancellation arrangements seven years in advance.
At one stage, it seemed possible that England's bid would be deemed
non-compliant because of the hotel industry's reluctance to conform
and Government intervention proved necessary to persuade the hotel
industry to accept FIFA's requirements.
Similar contracts are employed for other sporting events and the
Football Association has suggested that the same obstacle might
jeopardise other bids.
We recommend that the Government convene discussions involving
the sports authorities, the hotel industry and those concerned
with hotel contracts for international events to prevent a repetition
of such problems in relation to future bids. We expect the Government
to report on the progress of those discussions in its response
to this Report.
40. We were impressed by the evidence that we
received from the Football Association and in particular by the
organisation's willingness to recognise the weaknesses within
its control identified during the bidding process and, where appropriate,
to seek to rectify them. In response to its recognition of
its past international weakness, the Football Association is enhancing
its participation in the international governance of the sport.
FIFA is moving towards a system for regional rotation of the World
Cup and England will clearly offer many strengths as a contender
when the event is next due to be staged in Europe.
41. The need recognised by the Football Association
to increase its influence internationally if another bid is to
succeed represents an important lesson for other sports. In our
previous Report we noted a decline in British influence in international
The Minister for Sport also observed that, in the past, sporting
bodies in this country had "not seen the importance of having
our voice heard on many of these international organisations"
and she thought that "we have not had people in the bodies
The Government has previously referred to the role of UK Sport
in encouraging greater British involvement with international
federations, but the Institute of Professional Sport has highlighted
the value of direct Government assistance to British post-holders
in international organisations.
We recommend that the Minister for Sport initiate a review
to establish what further practical support might be provided
by the Government itself to British representatives on international
42. The most important lesson of the England bid
for the 2006 World Cup is that extraneous factors and the politics
of international sport will always matter as much as if not more
than the inherent technical strengths of a bid. In consequence,
bidding for events of this nature will remain a hazardous business.
This is a lesson that should not be lost on other sports and other
sporting organisations in this country.
71 HC (1998-99) 124-I, para 61. Back
p 76; Q 260. Back
(1998-99) 124-I, para 30; Q 203. Back
p 79. Back
pp 114-115. Back
pp 119, 123; QQ 248, 249. Back
pp 58, 93-94, 120-121. Back
pp 98, 121; Q 258. Back
p 121; QQ 203, 258. Back
pp 76, 102, 120, 123. Back
pp 116, 120, 123. Back
p 123. Back
250; Evidence, p 123. Back
p 58; Q 176. Back
p 105. Back
89 Ibid. Back
pp 125-129. Back
p 127. Back
pp 128-129. Back
pp 127, 128-129. Back
255, 257. Back
(1998-99) 124-I, paras 107-110. Back
p 199. Back
p 39. Back
(1998-99) 124-I, para 110. Back
p 126; Q 266. Back
256, 257 Back
pp 86, 126. Back
p 126. Back
pp 235, 126. Back
pp 75, 124; Q 254. Back
(1998-99) 124-I, paras 56-60. Back
475, 553. Back
4575, para 19; Evidence, pp 256-257. Back