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This is my talkSPORT Interview with John Whittingdale, Chair of the Culture, Media and Sport Select Committee. Please use freely when you credit talkSPORT.
SD - Now this is hardly a ringing endorsement, a vote of confidence for Sep Blatter?
JW – Well I think that the record of FIFA since the election does not inspire confidence, and we were astonished that it appeared when the Ethics Committee Report on Jack Warner was shown to him, and that led to his resignation, FIFA then deemed it appropriate to drop the investigation and not proceed any further.
SD – Which you would say backs up the idea of a lack of transparency?
JW – It certainly backs up the idea of a lack of transparency, and what it suggests is that FIFA continue to have no desire to conduct a proper investigation and get to the bottom of what are very serious allegations.
SD – Ok, I appreciate the gravity of this question, do you think it’s time that the FIFA President Sep Blatter considers his position?
JW – Well I mean Sep Blatter has just been re-elected and…
SD – And a fair competition it was too.
JW – (laughing) well exactly…but the English FA at the time made it plain that they were highly dissatisfied that the election process went ahead with only one candidate. I think what is now important is that the FA and all others who are concerned about these matters should bring pressure to bear to make sure that Sep Blatter forfills some of the undertakings given at the time of his election, and that a proper investigation is carried out.
SD – Now of course you said FIFA have been hugely discredited, but that it’s not just them because there’s criticism of the World Cup Bid, the England 2018 bid, so is there some suggestion that even without any unknown factor with FIFA, that the bid wasn’t up to scratch anyway?
JW – I think there are concerns about the quality of the English Bid, and one of the things we have said is that the FA need to look at that and learn lessons for the future. That is what was supposed to happen last time, and it does appear that some of the lessons weren’t properly learned. Obviously it wasn’t helped by the fact that the FA lost both the Chairman and the Chief Executive during the course of the Bid Campaign, and there were other areas where the England bid was deficient, but I don’t think that necessarily explains the fact that England ended up with just two votes when most people considered the England bid was a pretty strong one.
SD – Including the Prime Minister it has to be said. Now you’ve worked in Downing Street yourself with Mrs Thatcher, how do you think David Cameron will receive this report?
JW – I think David Cameron will share a lot of concerns that the Committee has felt. He committed to the bid. Prince William of course was actually deployed by the bid team to go and lobby for England it does now begin look now as if actually, we never stood any chance right from the start.
SD – And on balance, who’s fault would that be?
JW – Well I think the main fault is FIFA in that if it was the case that FIFA was always going to take the view that they wanted to give the contest to countries where football was still relatively under-developed, where it would help to bring on the game, that’s a perfectly legitimate argument, but they might have told us that in the first place. I mean we did actually spend quite a lot of money, we prepared what we thought was a very strong bid… yes there were problems with it, but certainly I think most people thought it deserved more than just two votes.
SD – Lastly then, you made criticisms of the government, the decision to announce the bid early on. Was it potentially the case that politicians were trying to attach themselves to this for popularity, not just the current government actually, but the previous government as well?
JW – Well there were one or two witnesses who said that the announcement at a very early stage was unusual, and maybe it added to the problems that the bid faced, but that I don’t think was a major factor, but certainly that’s something that I hope if we do decide to go down this road again will be taken in to account at that tiem.
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