England’s bid to host the World Cup in 2018 was nothing short of a disaster.
Having wheeled out Prince William and David Beckham to support the bid, the FA was left humiliated after, despite promises to the contrary, the bid picked up just 2 votes out of 22, going out in the first round, with Russia, of course, eventually triumphing and being announced as hosts back in 2010.
Officials were shocked at the time at how badly they had performed; however, as it would later transpire, they had simply been outflanked and outmanoeuvred, with Fifa at the height of its corruption under Sepp Blatter. With the right to host the 2022 World Cup on offer at the same time, there are a host of allegations that vote-swapping and bribery on a mass scale took place.
A 422-page report was written by former Fifa independent ethics investigator Michael Garcia back in 2014, but only published in full last year, which cleared - to an extent - Russia and Qatar of outright corruption, but criticised many of the bid teams, including England’s who, it seemed, tried to indulge in the dirty tricks like everyone else, but just didn’t do it very well.
Now, however, former Football Association chairman Lord Triesman has made some incendiary claims about potential interference in their campaign.
Speaking on the Danish documentary A World Cup of Spies, he says, that he was “surprised about the extent of the penetration of our computers”
“We did take some measures in case we were being spied on,” he said.
“We began to make sure that we were much more security conscious.”
71-year-old Triesman says that he knows who hacked them, but would not name them, saying: “I think if I do say, I will end up accidentally revealing how I know.”
In response, Russia 2018 chief executive Alexei Sorokin says he “never encountered any involvement of intelligence services”; meanwhile, Triesman suggests that England also indulged in “systematic” intelligence gathering themselves.
In the documentary, Fifa insider Peter Hargitay, a former special adviser to Sepp Blatter who left that role to work on England’s 2018 bid, seems to sum up what the organisation, and the bidding process for a World Cup, was actually like.
“It’s not about football, don’t misunderstand that, this about status, this is about legacy, this is about portraying to the world you’re a cool nation, you can do stuff.
“So to the fan it’s about football. To the spectator, to the viewer on TV, it’s about football.
“But it’s only about football the day [the World Cup] starts and the day it ends with the final. Before and after it’s nothing about football. It’s about politics.”