Sunday 22 April 2018

FA wants its £21m back after failed World Cup bid

Sepp Blatter
Sepp Blatter

Ben Rumsby in London

The English Football Association is consulting its lawyers fol­lowing Sepp Blatter's stunning disclosure that FIFA had decided to give the 2018 World Cup finals tournament to Russia before the vote even took place.

The FA spent £21m (€30m) on its attempt to bring the 2018 tournament to England, including £2.5m of public money from local authorities. Greg Dyke, the FA's chairman, told MPs on Wednesday that it would be "very nice" to get that back.

Mr Dyke was sceptical about the prospect of successfully suing FIFA but refused to rule out legal action if its suspended president stood by comments made in an extraordinary interview with the Russian news agency Tass.

FIFA's ethics committee said it was monitoring matters "with ­interest" amid calls for it to reopen its investigation into the award of the next two World Cup finals tournaments.

In addition to England, joint bids from Spain-Portugal and Belgium-Holland involved the spending of significant sums on ill-fated efforts to secure the hosting of football's biggest event. Those countries could try to seek compensation.

Giving evidence to the Culture, Media and Sport select committee, Mr Dyke said: "There's nothing Mr Blatter says that surprises me much. If he is saying, 'We wanted Russia' -and it looks like he wanted that fixed before the vote -it's suggesting that it was all fixed anyway."

Asked if the FA would look to reclaim its bid costs, Mr Dyke replied: "We will obviously go back and look at it. I think it would be a good idea. But get the bid costs back from whom? From FIFA? I agree it would be very nice to get taxpayers' ­money back."

Mr Dyke told reporters after the hearing: "We will go back and ask questions about what Blatter has said today. We will ask some questions about what Mr Blatter has said and talk to our own lawyers, but this is uncharted territory."

Branding England and the US "bad losers" as a result of their World Cup bid failures, Blatter said: "In 2010, we had a discussion of the World Cup and then we went to a double decision.

"For the World Cups, it was agreed that we go to Russia because it's never been in Russia, Eastern Europe, and for 2022 we go back to America. And so we will have the World Cup in the two biggest political powers.

"And everything was good until (French president Nicolas) Sarkozy came in. He said in a meeting with the crown prince of Qatar that it would be good to go to Qatar. This changed the whole pattern."

Blatter, who is facing criminal proceedings, said there was "no pos­sibility" Russia would be strip­ped of the 2018 tournament.

Irish Independent

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