England 2018 bid leaders have sent a letter to FIFA’s executive committee members in response to two UK-based media investigations into the World Cup bidding process.
The letter, from England 2018’s chairman Geoff Thompson – who is also a FIFA and UEFA vice-president – and bid international president David Dein, attempts to distance the bid from the Sunday Times and BBC Panorama investigations.
England 2018 admit the Sunday Times revelation, which has led to FIFA members facing an ethics committee hearing this week, caused harm to their campaign and they fear a forthcoming Panorama programme to be screened three days before the vote could cripple the bid.
The letter states: “We hope England’s bid will not be judged negatively due to the activities of individual media organisations, regardless of one’s view of their conduct. We hope you appreciate that we have no control over the British media.”
The letter also states that it was England 2018 who first alerted FIFA to the bogus company which turned out to be a front for the Sunday Times investigation.
It adds: “Rest assured we have done all we can to assist FIFA and its members during recent weeks. It was members of the England bid which alerted the FIFA general secretary, on September 29, to the activities of a bogus company which turned out to be the Sunday Times investigation.
“We kept him informed on regular occasions as we conducted our investigation into this company.”
The letter also confirms bid chief executive Andy Anson visited BBC director general Mark Thompson to voice concerns about the Panorama programme.
“Furthermore it is now public knowledge that we have made representations to the BBC regarding a forthcoming documentary they are planning,” the letter adds.
“We are alerting you to the fact that the programme appears in part to be raking over allegations some of which are up to 10 years old and have already been formally dealt with by Fifa and the Swiss courts.”
Anson raised the possibility of the letter with Sepp Blatter when he visited the FIFA president in Zurich last week, and was advised it would be a good idea.
The letter continues: “Concern over what the future might hold for FIFA in its relationship with the British media if we were to be successful should also be dismissed.
“We are sure that FIFA would receive a positive reception and can use this unprecedented platform to generate increased awareness for its partners and stakeholders and the promotion of the game globally.
“We all want a FIFA World Cup vote to focus on the positive elements of the overall bidding process.”