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2018 World Cup bid sought Qatar voting deal

By David Bond
BBC sports editor

Report - Duke's links with Qatar

England's failed 2018 World Cup bid tried to use the Duke of York's relationship with the Qatari royal family to secure a voting alliance.

Following a freedom of information request, the BBC has learned diplomats and the Football Association worked on a Qatar strategy to help England's bid.

Qatar's own bid for the 2022 tournament event was ultimately successful.

Spain and Portugal were accused of breaking Fifa rules by forming a voting alliance with Qatar.

The emails revealed by this freedom of information request show for the first time the lengths to which England was prepared to go to win backing for its campaign.

Time and again in correspondence from foreign office and embassy officials in Qatar, it was made clear that securing the support of the Emir of Qatar would be crucial to England's chances of success.

A plan was discussed to use the influence of the Royal Family, in particular the Duke of York, to secure a voting alliance between England's 2018 bid and Qatar's own challenge for the 2022 event.

One email said: "The advice from the ambassador in Doha is that, subject to anything that happened at that meeting, we should ask the Duke to be kind enough to speak to the Emir on the phone as soon as is convenient and before 23 April in order to seek his support for the England bid."

It is not known if any meeting or phone call took place.

But in other emails, it was revealed how the Duke of York - the United Kingdom's Special Representative for International Trade and Investment since 2001 - was planning to meet with the Emir's wife Sheika Mozha.

In October, the Emir made a state visit to Britain where it was hoped he would discuss the countries' World Cup bids with the Prince of Wales, though a statement from Clarence House denied that any voting alliance was discussed.

The Duke of York's press office has denied that any lobbying with Qatar was carried out.

The FA has declined to comment on the emails or on its campaign voting strategy, though one source defended the approach saying this was what was needed to try to win.

What this information shows is that while other bids such as Spain and Portugal were investigated by Fifa for voting collusion, England was desperately trying to do its own deals to win the World Cup.

However the tactic was to prove unsuccessful with England gaining only two votes as its bid was eliminated in the first round.

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see also
Russia & Qatar to host World Cups
02 Dec 10 |  Football
Blatter brands England bad losers
08 Dec 10 |  Football
Anson floats Fifa reform proposal
04 Dec 10 |  Football
FA chief to quit in Fifa protest
04 Dec 10 |  Football

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