Friday, February 15, 2008

Déjà vu: England scuppers another World Cup bid

Richard Scudamore, Chief Executive of the FA Premier League, will not be a popular man at the Football Association today, as his plans for an ‘International Round’ of Premier League games could endanger England’s bid to host the 2018 FIFA World Cup.

The FA Premier League announced that its 20 clubs had agreed to further discuss a proposal to stage an ‘International Round’ in January 2011 before informing FIFA  - a bad political move.

“When it comes to a decision of the [FIFA] Executive Committee concerning the matter of the 39th round of the Premier League, the Executive Committee, definitely, I am sure, will be against that, then this will not have a positive impact on the bid from England for the World Cup 2018”, said FIFA President Joseph Blatter, when questioned by the BBC.

The 25-man FIFA Executive Committee, of which Blatter is President, has the final vote over who will be awarded the 2018 tournament. It also includes Michel Platini, who has dismissed the plans as a “joke”. The Asian Football Confederation has also told the BBC that it will not support the plan. Its President, Mohammed Bin Hammam, has been openly critical of European club tours, which he feels takes supporters away from the Asian club game.

Is it just me that gets a sense of déjà vu over all of this? Back in 1997, blinded by the revenue generated by Euro 1996, the Football Association went back on a ‘gentleman’s agreement’ to support a German bid to host the 2006 FIFA World Cup by bidding directly against the Deutscher Fußball-Bund. Everyone knows who won that argument, and it appears that the FA could lose this one as well.

Blatter’s comments also revealed a dissolution between the aims of the Football Association in promoting the national game and the FA Premier League, in maximising revenue, that many fans will recognise. “This will never happen, at least as long as I am the President of FIFA”, said Blatter. “This is abuse. The rich Premier League is trying to get richer and wants to expand the importance of that league”.

This badly-judged proposal could end up costing Scudamore his job.

 Andy Brown


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