Part Seven, Section A, First sentence. “England 2018 placed particular emphasis on winning over Jack Warner, who was then a FIFA Vice President and the CONCACAF President.” From there on, the Garcia Report – released in full by FIFA on Tuesday – culminated the embarrassment of Football Association’s 2018 World Cup bid. The English participation in questionable activity during the bid was highlighted in the report by the lengths the FA were willing to go to accommodate Jack Warner in order to get votes. Warner, now known for his maneuvering and corrupt antics when running the North American soccer confederation, used his power to make the English bid a dependent contender for the World Cup, or as Garcia put it, “Warner sought to exploit that perception of his power, showering England’s bid team with inappropriate requests.”
This desire of the bidding committee to please Warner could go on to display the levels of hope and tenacity that the FA wanted to host the 2018 World Cup, what would have been a second climax to a huge decade in sport for the United Kingdom. Instead, the bid was left to attend to the staggering callings of Mr. Warner, who asked the English bid team to provide assistance to Richard Sebro, a person who Warner considered as his adopted son according to the report. Sending emails to former FA head and Chairman of the England 2018 bid at the time, Lord David Driesman, and eventually bid CEO Andy Anson and Director of Campaign Operations Jane Bateman Warner appealed for Serb to get a job while studying in England.
A summer job was provided to Sebro at Tottenham Hotspur, to which Warner was pleased about. However, Warner continued to press his cause for Sebro’s consistent employment, eventually leading to Sebro finding employment at Wembley, and later at Aston Villa. This exploitation of power by Warner, something that could be easily understood by even watching John Oliver’s Last Week Tonight piece, details a man who understood his power, and apparently realized the desperation of the English bid. The bid was willing to curry favor with Warner through discussing his Joe Public Football Club – an ironic name considering Warner’s lack of mediocrity in the footballing world – along with a desire to help the Trinidad & Tobago Football Federation and the England 2018 bid sponsoring the Caribbean Football Union’s Congress.
The overall development of the English bid must surely leave a sour taste in many of the mouths of powerful stakeholders in English football. To go to the extended lengths as the English bid did to please Jack Warner and to only muster two votes and first round elimination from the selection. Much like the English national team’s performance at the 2014 World Cup, the England 2018 bid was a farce, but one can learn from farces. With the apparent interest of a changed Football Association into bidding for the World Cup in 2030, a changed style of bid is not only expected, it’s required. An English World Cup bid would require the full support of UEFA, unlike the divisions that made the 2018 World Cup bid a European football conflict. Heads of UEFA have already displayed a strong interest in England to host the World Cup, and a European bid holds a strong advantage due to an expanded tournament from 2026 on. Success for Wembley Stadium to host the semi-finals and finals of the 2020 European Championships will surely go a long way in garnering a large amount of European support. The developments in the Garcia report rehash a black mark on the political stature of English football in the international community, but it provides a glimmer where the FA can learn and improve to finally get a chance to host the World Cup.