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Roger Burden to quit as FA chairman in Fifa protest

Wembley Stadium
England had high hopes of winning the bid to host the 2018 World Cup

Acting Football Association chairman Roger Burden has withdrawn his application for the permanent post over England's 2018 World Cup bid failure.

Burden, who was appointed in May, says he can no longer trust Fifa members after England lost out to Russia.

"I recognise that an important part of the role is liaison with Fifa, our global governing body," said Burden.

"I'm not prepared to deal with people whom I cannot trust and I've withdrawn my candidacy," added the 64-year-old.

England 2018 officials have suggested that as many as six of the 22 Fifa members had promised to vote for England.

But in the end England received just two votes - one of them from Englishman Geoff Thompson - ensuring the bid crashed out in the first round of voting in Zurich on Thursday.

Burden accepted there might have been a backlash over the Sunday Times and BBC Panorama investigations into the world governing body, but said Fifa needed to be more thick-skinned.

"We have a free press in our country and we all have to live with adverse comment from time to time," he added.

Roger Burden
Burden's decision is significant because it really does reflect this feeling of acrimony and anger at the very top of English football, and this sense that in some way the England bid team were betrayed

BBC sports editor David Bond

"But there is no doubt that English football benefits from the media coverage that it receives and would have been given great coverage if we had brought the World Cup to England.

"I have no issue with Russia's winning bid. I am sure they will put on a great World Cup and I have congratulated them."

But the FA's acting chairman was mystified as to why England had only secured two votes given the strength of its bid.

"We were equal top of Fifa's own technical assessment of the four bids," said Burden. "We were top of an independent assessment of the best commercial bids and our presentation on Thursday was widely acclaimed as the best of the 2018 and 2022 bids.

"Against this background, I am struggling to understand how we only achieved two votes. It is difficult to believe that the voting was an objective process.

"On top of that, Prince William, the Prime Minister and other members of our delegation were promised votes that did not materialise."

Burden vowed to remain on the FA board and support the new chairman but admitted he was no longer willing to work with Fifa.

"I'm absolutely determined that I don't want to do business with these people personally," added Burden.

"There may be people who have got different experiences to my own who feel they can make a difference and they can speak to Fifa and they are willing to do that, but it's not within my experience.

"I usually deal with people who I can trust and who are honourable people, it's just something I'm not going to do."

However, despite his reservations about working with Fifa, Burden urged the FA not to sever their ties with the sport's world governing body.

"They are our governing body and it's up to us to now to find ways of dealing with them and getting some sense into the organisation and I'll certainly be looking to do that," he added.

"Walking away from Fifa I don't think is the answer, they are our governing body and we must look for ways of working with them."

The BBC's sports editor David Bond said: "It [Burden's decision] is significant because it really does reflect this feeling of acrimony and anger at the very top of English football, and this sense that in some way the England bid team were betrayed."

Burden will remain as acting chairman until a successor can be found, with the FA due to name the permanent chairman early next year.

He rose through the FA's ranks and is chairman of the Gloucestershire FA and the National Game Board and became acting chairman after the departure of Lord Triesman, who resigned after what he called his "entrapment" by a national newspaper.

Burden initially was not interested in taking the role full-time, but later changed his mind.

The FA's unhappiness at the 2018 decision is also expected to lead to moves to scrap plans for a friendly international against Thailand in June, as the match was organised in an attempt to gain support for England's bid.

Speaking on BBC Radio 5 live, Bond added: "He's not well known on the international stage, but he's extremely well known in English football as an honourable and principled man with a good business record.


"Fifa may look at it and, without being unkind to him, wonder who he is. But it's what he said [that counts]. It's pretty damning for Fifa."

Former FA chief executive Mark Palios said of Burden: "He's someone who genuinely has the best interests of the game at heart, so for him to come out in this way shows the anger there is around.

"The FA have to engage with Fifa but it's a long term play [now], it's for the next generation. You can't change Fifa overnight. You have to be pragmatic and compromise without being compromised.

"We need to be inside the organisation driving the ideas from the very start.

"But the next person needs to make the game [in England] unified - the FA and the other organisations in the game, everybody knows what needs to be done.

"The real issues are to change the structures here so we can optimise what we do with the English game."

England 2018 bid ambassador Viv Anderson described the World Cup bidding procedure as a "joke" on Friday.

"How can 22 people have so much power?" Anderson told BBC Radio 5 live. "It's an old boys' club. We should form a splinter group and try and break up that boys' club up.

"If the criteria is new markets then let them - Russia and Qatar - have it but don't let us spend £15m and don't get anywhere near it."


What went wrong with England's 2018 bid?

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see also
England miss out in 2018 Cup vote
02 Dec 10 |  Football
Burden upbeat on England 2018 bid
02 Dec 10 |  Football
Burden keen on FA chairman role
28 Oct 10 |  Football
Burden welcomes Warner comments
10 Jun 10 |  Football
Burden does not want FA top job
26 May 10 |  Football
Triesman quits FA & 2018 Cup jobs
16 May 10 |  Football

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