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2006 World Cup decision Thursday, 29 June, 2000, 15:09 GMT 16:09 UK
England's chances faded fast
England fans show their support for the bid
England's bid may have been ruined by their own fans
Alex Perry examines England's World Cup campaign - and fears the spectre of hooliganism was always likely to overshadow an excellent bid.

In the aftermath of Euro 2000, when the performance of England's fans off the field was even worse than that of the team on it, many felt that the country's chances of hosting the 2006 World Cup were finished.

It is unfortunate for the England campaign that the Germany game and all the inevitable baggage should have come at such a crucial time.

England facts
Population: 49,000,000
Capital city: London
International honours: World Cup-winners 1966
Leading clubs: Man Utd, Arsenal, Liverpool
For despite obvious concerns about England's hooligan following, there is no doubt that the bid was an excellent one, and even though the national team is in a state of malaise, English club football is buoyant.

After apparently reneging on an agreement to back Germany's bid for 2006, England used every possible resource to ensure that the Germans - and everyone else for that matter - did not win the vote.

A campaign war-chest rumoured to be 10m was spent and those 1966 footballing knights Geoff Hurst and Bobby Charlton left no stone unturned, and no Fifa Executive Board member un-courted, in their bid.

Much emphasis was put on England being the 'Home of Football', but more relevant is the number of top quality stadiums already in place, with the new Wembley to come.

The Jules Rimet trophy
England's footballing history was a big plus
Euro 96 showed that England are more than capable of hosting such a tournament, and the facilities and necessary infrastructure are already in place.

One of the main successes of Euro 96 was the relatively low level of crowd trouble - and it has been argued that the English authorities have the experience to deal with any problems within the country.

But it is a sad indictment of England's problems that one of the arguments for hosting the World Cup was, in effect: "Give us the bid, because otherwise our hooligans might come and destroy your cities."

The English campaign team tried to woo the voters by offering to redistribute profits around the developing world, and announcing that children would be given reduced prices.

An artist's impression of the new Wembley
The new Wembley will be state of the art
But what may have proved just as persuasive to the voters is the appeal of England as a place for them to spend their summer holidays.

Mind you, Brazil, Morocco and South Africa had their own appeal too.

But aside from the hooligan issue, the English bid was not without its drawbacks.

The political machinations of world football saw the Football Association fall out with Uefa.

Two years ago the FA apparenlty changed its allegiance from Uefa chief Lennart Johansson to Sepp Blatter in the race to become Fifa president.

There also seems to be little love lost between Gerhard Eigner, the German general secretary of Uefa, and the England camp - and it seemed clear that Uefa was backing Germany in the race.

Manchester United attend the World Club Championship
Manchester United at the World Club Championship
There were also suggestions of sleaze after it emerged the FA were paying for Peter Withe to coach the national side of Thailand - a country that just happens to have a member on the all-important Fifa Executive Committee.

Manchester United's much-discussed participation in the World Club Championship may or may not have helped England's bid - but England's friendly in Malta just before Euro 2000 was a failed attempt to clinch the Maltese vote.

The international renown of Hurst and Charlton was a big plus for England, and their success in courting the Committee members from the likes of New Zealand, Malta and the United States could have proved crucial for some of the votes.

The hope was that they would be placed second by many voters, which would have been vital in the later rounds of the ballot.

See also:

29 Jun 00 | 2006 World Cup decision
29 Jun 00 | 2006 World Cup decision
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