In the 2018 and 2022 World Cup votes, England were not in the smoral or monetary league as Russia and Qatar
Thanks to the splendid efforts of the popular German daily paper BILD, FIFA all too belatedly have been forced to reveal the full damning report by the American lawyer Michael Garcia.
FIFA had initially tried to publish a heavily diluted version of his damning verdict, from which he angrily excluded himself.
Needless to say, that repugnant cheat and parasite, Jack Warner of Trinidad, plays all too prominent a role; that he should be courted and flattered by the misguided Andy Anson, chief of England’s doomed World Cup bid, was shocking enough. That Prince William and David Cameron, then the Prime Minister, should be crucially involved was horrifying.
Warner inevitably ratted on his promise to vote for England as World Cup hosts, and there was a half-baked attempt to swap votes with South Korea.
All this at a cost of £21million. In the pitiable event, England received just two votes, one of which was their own. Russia and Qatar bribed their way to the ensuing World Cups. England and their representatives, among them the deeply unimpressive Geoff Thompson, at least owned up to their malfeasance. When it came to potencial bribery, they simply were not in the same moral or monetary league as Russia and Qatar.
The publication of a well-received biography of Bela Guttmann by David Bolshover elicits so many memories.
Notably of my first meeting with Guttmann; in a central Roman restaurant early in 1955 where he was sitting at a nearby table; having just been dismissed by AC Milan as manager although the club were still top of the Campionato.
He remarked bitterly that in any future managerial contract he would include the clause, Not to be dismissed when club is top of the League.
Then he told an indicative story. Some while ago, he said, Lucchese, then a struggling Serie A team, were due to play mighty Juventus in Turin. On the journey up there, their manager collapsed and died. Instant panic. It was unthinkable that any Italian team could go into a match without a manager. Desperately, the club phoned all over Italy till at last they did find a coach, who arrived just in time to take his seat on the bench.
Lucchese then went out, and drew. The players carried the new manager in triumph from the field on their shoulders.
I went to the office of the Corriere dello Sport not far away, where I then worked, and wrote up the story, which duly appeared the following day.
In the same restaurant Gutman reappeared, much moved, and told me, “Only an Englishman could have written such an article.”
Years later when he was managing Benfica I wrote to him wondering if he remembered me. “I shall never forget you,” he replied.