Was the BBC to blame for England losing World Cup bid to Russia?

Well it hardly helped considering that four of the 22-man FIFA executive committee who voted on the bids for 2018 and 2022 today were accused in a Panorama programme on Monday of taking bribes or, in the case of Trinidad and Tobago’s Jack Warner, seeking to profit from tickets.

Warner was supposed to be England’s trump card, even being described by the lobbying David Beckham as “a great man.” Well Becks can get away with these things.

A cynic might say that it’s quite appropriate that this FIFA executive should have chosen Russia on the day that Wikileaks revealed the US state department’s view that Russia is run by its own mafia with prime minister Vladimir Putin as the godfather.

But the Beeb’s rather dog-eared investigation by freelance reporter Andrew Jennings, although it succeeded in putting some flesh on the bones of earlier investigations, failed to come up with anything new. And there was absolutely no need to broadcast it three days before the decision.

If nothing else it would have indicated to FIFA that its members and executives would be subjected to merciless scrutiny of their doings as soon as they set foot in England and probably before. All the more reason to head for Russia then.

The Beeb will say that FIFA has quite clearly indicated that it wishes to hold the World Cup in ‘developing’ countries, hence the choice of Russia in 2018 (stretching a point maybe) and Qatar, which beat Australia and the United States for the 2022 tournament.

But this is a fig leaf to cover their embarrassment.

This has not been the BBC’s finest hour. Instead it has revealed itself as pompous and self-centred.

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About Stephen Foster

Stephen is a former editor of Marketing Week and London Evening Standard advertising columnist. He wrote City Republic for Brand Republic and is a partner in communications consultancy The Editorial Partnership.