Sun, Nov 28, 2010 - Page 19 News List

British PM set for charm offensive ahead of FIFA vote

AFP, LONDON

British Prime Minister David Cameron said he aims to highlight the technical merits of England’s 2018 World Cup bid to world soccer’s ruling body this week amid fears that a television documentary on FIFA could derail the campaign.

Cameron and England 2018 bid chiefs fear a Panorama program, set to be screened in Britain just three days before the World Cup vote on Thursday, could hamper England’s chances.

While he defended Britain’s “robust and independent” media, Cameron — who is set to spend three days in Zurich next week lobbying FIFA representatives — said England should be judged on the merits of its bid alone.

Cameron said in an interview with the BBC’s Football Focus, to be shown yesterday: “Is it frustrating that Panorama’s doing this program a few days before? Of course it is. But it’s a free country and you have to roll with that. I think FIFA will understand that and I think we also have to try and convince them that, yes we’ve got a robust and independent media, but our media love football and when it comes to the World Cup in terms of audience, in terms of the press coverage around the world, actually the media will give it a fantastic boost here in this country.”

Cameron added: “I think the job that Andy Anson and others and myself are going to have in Zurich is to say to FIFA, let’s look at the bids on their merits, look at the technical aspects, look at the stadia, look at the fans, look at the country, look at what England can offer and yes of course we have a free media, a democracy, but look at the upsides and the advantages and we just have to make that case.”

One of the targets of Panorama’s investigation is FIFA vice-president Jack Warner, who has been the subject of programs in the past.

Earlier this week the Trinidadian said that Panorama appeared to be deliberately undermining England’s bid.

He told Trinidadian newspaper Newsday: “I think they [Panorama] have a death-wish for the English FA and I hope they fail because it isn’t too correct what they’re trying to do.”

Warner remains the most crucial vote for England to capture as he and fellow CONCACAF delegates Chuck Blazer and Rafael Salguero are likely to vote the same way.

Warner said. “We have not decided how we’re voting in the CONCACAF. I know that, in some ways, our votes are key to what’s happening. On Monday, I’ll meet my team and then we shall decide.”

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