England’s campaign to host the 2018 World Cup came under attack last week from FIFA vice president Jack Warner, who claimed “nobody wants to see the England bid of 2005, 2004. They want to see something innovative, something creative.” The Independent’s Sam Wallace admits, “the English bid is not beyond criticism; it should welcome constructive criticism…but Warner is impossible to take seriously.” Reading between the lines, it would seem “creative” is a euphemism for someone (perhaps a member of the Warner family?) being properly compensated (“more and more, you look at some of the characters involved and wonder whether the whole charade will be worth it”_
The key criticism from Warner, in what was a pretty confusing attack on England’s 2018 bid, seemed to be that the Queen and David Beckham had not been shoved to the forefront to meet ExCo. These Fifa executives often appear to act as if they consider themselves royalty so it is no surprise that they expect to meet the real thing.
This is the power of Fifa and its ExCo. They operate beyond the boundaries of national governments because they have the power to suspend any national football association if they feel those associations are under threat of investigation or domestic political pressure. This gives them extraordinary global power.
Funnily enough, Warner has already met Beckham in June last year. That was when the England squad, at the end of a long season, were shipped out to Trinidad for a friendly to curry favour with Warner. Fabio Capello even made Beckham captain for the occasion. Before the match, Warner surpassed himself by having a row over the venue with his government and threatening to call the whole thing off.
Does doing those kind of favours even impress these people? Towards the end of England’s disastrous bid for the 2006 World Cup, the England team were sent to Malta in June 2000 to play a friendly to impress Malta’s then ExCo delegate Joseph Mifsud. He voted for Germany the following month.