FIFA vice-president Jack Warner has criticised the BBC’s investigation into World Cup bidding, accusing the corporation of trying to sabotage England’s chances of hosting the 2018 tournament.
The BBC is scheduled to air a Panorama programme next Monday, three days before the vote, and Warner, who has been the subject of previous investigative reports by the BBC, claimed he was the subject of “a personal vendetta”.
“It is sooooooo stupid, for it can have no effect on me personally or on anyone else in the FIFA for that matter,” Warner said. “In my personal opinion, it is deliberately designed to negatively impact on England’s chances. It’s just a rehash of the same [things] so I continue to sleep very soundly at nights.”
Organisers of the England bid attacked the BBC for being “unpatriotic”, but Panorama producers responded by saying the programme “has a reputation for strong, independent and probing investigative journalism & the findings of the investigation into FIFA will be in the public interest”.
But bid president David Dein said attacks on FIFA in the British media could only harm England’s chances.
“We are at a critical time, everybody is working full out to try to get the World Cup back to England,” Dein said. “We’re in it to win it and hopefully we’ll get a good result. We need the country behind us. We’ve got to concentrate on one thing and one thing only. To give it our best shot.
“We’ve got a very interesting few days to come and obviously we want to do our best and we are in it to win it. English football and particularly the Premier League goes to over 210 countries around the world, it’s the most watched football product of any nation, we’ve got a lot going for ourselves.”
England are up against Netherlands/Belgium, Russia and Spain/Portugal for the 2018 hosting rights. The venue for the 2022 World Cup will also be decided on December 2, with Australia, Japan, Qatar, South Korea and the USA competing against for the honour.