It appears that the English bid to host the 2018 World Cup is so damaged that even the English bidding team believe they are staring defeat in the face.
The final straw in their minds appears to be the forthcoming broadcast of a documentary on the BBC that will look at corruption surrounding the 2018 bidding process and ask “Is this a fair vote for England?”.
The English bid team are reportedly so worried that they met with Mark Thompson, Director General of the BBC, in a bid to persuade him to cancel the Panorama programme. One of the bid team, described in the Guardian as a “senior bid source” said that:
“It is a fact that England’s chances have been damaged among Fifa executive committee members. If the Panorama is broadcast that will damage our chances further.”
By all accounts, they were told where to go by Thompson, who would have viewed it as an attempt to undermine the BBC’s editorial independence.
All of this is good news for the Russian bid – they’re increasingly becoming viewed as favourites to host the 2018 World Cup. No comment from the Russian side, who seem to have wisely decided to let the English stew in a mire of their own making. The only possible worry for Russia is that votes that would have gone to England might be diverted to a joint Spain/Portugal bid, which is reportedly looking increasingly strong.
Update: The votes are in, and Russia will host the 2018 World Cup – see my post Russia World Cup Hosts