Written by Politics, Sport

Has The Mail on Sunday Lost England The World Cup?

It’s the question that isn’t really be asked – at least in the media. But did the Mail on Sunday’s scoop last weekend fatally damage England’s chances of hosting the World Cup in 2018?

Lord Triesman’s words were certainly ill-advised, and, without any proof, completely unfounded. He was foolish to confide such beliefs with anyone – including people who thought were close friends. And now FIFA is carrying out an inquiry into the claims he made.

But should the Mail on Sunday have carried the report, and what long term damage might it do to the bid? We won’t really ever know – and certainly not until December.

The front page of The Sun this morning is turned over to attempting to revitalise the bid, carrying David Beckham’s belief that it’s not all over yet (Well he would say that wouldn’t he?).

Hang on Adam!

Surely it’s vital that the media and journalists can report anything that happens without care for the consequences? They’re just reporting it after all? A free media is one of the tenets of a democracy. And we know what happens to journalists in Russia who step out of line…

That’s true, and I’d defend any journalist from reporting anything.

But there is a slightly fishy smell surrounding the Mail on Sunday’s story though. The word du jour must surely be “entrapment”. However Triesman did say those things and he was very foolish to have voiced them at any time – never mind at quite such a sensitive time as now.

Today’s Guardian mentions an unnamed FIFA member who’ll be one of those voting to decide who gets the 2018 competition as saying that he believes its fatally damaged England’s chances. But as we all know – in the political arena of sport, nothing is ever quite as it appears.

Sports politics surely remains the one area in a western democratic world, where corruption remains. Just look at some previous FIFA and IOC administrations to find things that aren’t really very clever, very nice, and in cases, very legal.

But I do wonder how much pressure there currently is on the Mail on Sunday to reveal – or keep hidden – any further revelations that might come from it’s tape recorded conversations with Triesman? Are we seeing News International v Associated Newspapers over this?

In the end, the proof will be in the pudding. And if the average football fan begins to believe that the Mail on Sunday cost England the 2018 World Cup, then it could hit the bottom line of Associated Newspapers. And an endless supply of Phil Collins CDs won’t fix that.

[UPDATE] I must admit I wrote most of that without testing the water of fan reaction. And it seems pretty clear that I’m by no means the only person pointing a finger at the Mail on Sunday.
Roy Greenslade is wondering like I am, whether this could lead to Hillsborough style boycott of the paper. Of course Linekar’s left the paper, and the reaction in comments on the Mail’s site seems to be flowing one way for the most part.