The Duke of Cambridge, Prince William and former British Prime Minister, David Cameron, have become embroiled in a row over corruption in football as the full extent of England’s failed attempt to stage the 2018 World Cup was made public.
The former prime minister and Prince William were at a meeting during which a vote-swapping deal between England and South Korea was discussed, according to an official report released yesterday night.
The long-awaited FIFA report, according to the London-based Telegraph Newspaper, has disclosed the lengths to which England’s football bosses went to court FIFA executives, many of them now discredited, as they sought to secure votes for England’s 2018 bid.
At one point, officials discussed the possibility of arranging a meeting with the Queen for one FIFA representative whose vote could have helped England.
The FIFA report revealed how Cameron asked the South Korean delegation to back England’s bid, only to be told that England would have to agree to reciprocate by pledging support for South Korea’s bid to host the 2022 tournament.
Such a vote-swapping deal, the report concluded, would have been in “violation of the anti-collusion rules.”
The report, written in 2014 by FIFA’s then chief ethics investigator, Michael Garcia, details how England bid officials interacted with FIFA officials in the run up to the vote.
It disclosed how they were asked to bestow an honorary knighthood and arrange an audience with the Queen for one South American official
England 2018 officials arranged work at Aston Villa and Tottenham Hotspur football clubs for the “adopted son” of one official.
They even considered a request by the same official, the Trinidad and Tobago FIFA Vice-President, Jack Warner, to have his hometown twinned with an “English village” according to the report.
The FA offered Burton upon Trent, in Staffordshire, as a potential twin town.
The report disclosed how Cameron met FIFA Vice President, Mong-Joon Chung of South Korea in Prince William’s suite at the Baur au lac Hotel in Zurich on the eve of the vote in December 2010.
South Korea was bidding to stage the 2022 World Cup which was also being decided at the same time.
“The Prime Minister asked Chung to vote for England’s bid, and Chung responded that he would if (Geoff) Thompson (chairman of England’s bid) voted for Korea,” states the report based on evidence provided by the English delegation.
The Queen is also named in the report after it emerged that FA chiefs met with a senior FIFA official in 2009 who asked for an audience with the monarch.
It is alleged that Nicolas Leoz, president of the South American Football Confederation, suggested the possibility of an honorary knighthood.
In the meeting with Lord Triesman, the then FA chairman, it is alleged that Dr Leoz said, “that he believed that a knighthood from the United Kingdom would be appropriate.”
Andy Anson, chief executive of England 2018, the company behind the English FA bid, told investigators he recalled officials “said to me that it would be nice if at some point Leoz would get to meet the Queen.”
England 2018 officials, recognising the difficulty of arranging an honorary knighthood, instead discussed “creating a FA Disability Cup” that “could be named after him”. Subsequently officials questioned whether naming a trophy in his honour was “big enough” inducement to gain Leoz’s support.
The attempts to court Jack Warner, then a FIFA vice president and president of North, Central American and Caribbean football confederation, and his astonishing demands are also revealed in full for the first time.
“England 2018’s response shows an unfortunate willingness, time and again, to meet that expectation (of Mr Warner),” concludes the report.
That included finding jobs for Warner’s ‘adopted son’ Richard Sebro, who was actually the son of his banker, at Tottenham Hostpur Football Club and then a second placement at Aston Villa in 2009.
The same year, the FA also paid for all costs covering a stay in Sheffield of the Trinidad & Tobago Under 20 team. A year later, according to the report, Warner then requested his home village of Longdenville, in Trinidad, be twinned with an English village in order to secure publicity and funding for it.
In an email sent to Warner on June 29, 2009, the English bid team offered up Burton-upon-Trent, which is home to the FA’s national football centre, as a possible twinned town.
The report also discloses England’s agreement to play an international football friendly in Thailand, a team ranked 120th in the world. Thailand would received money from all broadcasting rights to the game, bar in the UK, due to be staged in 2011. When England lost out on the World Cup bid in 2010 to Russia, the game with Thailand, arranged in November, was cancelled in December. The report states: “The game’s cancellation only underscores the improper relationship.”
The FA’s attempts at lobbying were unsuccessful with England knocked out in the first round when receiving only two votes. The tournament went to Russia while Qatar secured the 2022 finals, with both decisions reached on December 2, 2010.
According to the Garcia report England 2018 “provided full and valuable co-operation in establishing the facts and circumstances of this case” with witnesses made available for interview and documents produced on request.
However, the report also identified “conduct by England 2018 that may not have met the standards set out in the FCE (FIFA code of ethics) or the bid rules”.
The report adds: “In many cases England 2018 accommodated or at least attempted to satisfy, the improper requests made by these Executive Committee members.
“While the bidding process itself, and the attitude of entitlement and expectation demonstrated by certain Executive Committee members in the exchanges discussed in detail above, place the bid team in a difficult position that fact does not excuse all of the conduct.”