England’s doomed campaign to host this year’s World Cup, about which much is still to emerge, will be highlighted in a book launched this month at the House of Commons.
Whatever It Takes — The Inside Story of the FIFA Way, by former Australian bid insider and whistleblower Bonita Mersiades, is primarily about Australia’s failure in the equally murky 2022 bid.
But there are a number of similarities between the two failed campaigns. Mersiades quit the Australian bid team after they hired Peter Hargitay, a veteran global football PR strategist who acted as an adviser to Sepp Blatter.
A new book titled ‘Whatever It Takes — The Inside Story of the FIFA Way’, written by Bonita Mersiades, will reveal details about England’s famously doomed bid for 2018 World Cup
Hargitay was employed by the Football Federation of Australia after he left the FA’s 2018 team, when chairman Lord Triesman ruled that all outside consultants should re-apply for their positions.
Mersiades is sure to condemn the FFA for hiring Hargitay at great expense but they realised — as did the previous FA leadership — that his inside knowledge of FIFA machinations was crucial to a World Cup bid.
Intriguingly, Lord Triesman is helping to host Mersiades in Westminster on January 24 along with MP Damian Collins, a campaigner for FIFA reforms. Hargitay’s lawyers will be keeping a close watch on the contents of the book.
England lost out in bidding process, with Russia preparing to host the World Cup this summer
Qatar racing operation Al Shaqab’s huge debts to British racing interests, revealed by Sports Agenda, include not having paid for the polo match they sponsored during Glorious Goodwood.
Al Shaqab have claimed the problems are linked to a financial review and reorganisation, which led to many of Sheik Joaan’s horses based here moving to France.
Arsene Wenger caused merriment when he revealed that, by chance, he had sat next to his gardener at Stamford Bridge last season when serving a touchline ban.
However, it has emerged since that the gardener in question was a member of Arsenal’s groundstaff. In fairness to Wenger (above), he probably regards the training ground, which is set in 140 acres at London Colney and which he helped design, as his personal garden.
Manager Arsene Wenger, 68, referred to a member of Arsenal’s groundstaff as his ‘gardener’
Alan Green, the Marmite BBC football commentator, will not be returning for a second season as in-house TV commentator for Major League Soccer side Atlanta United.
Rather than irritating an American audience, as some might suspect, Atlanta liked Green’s style and wanted him back in March. But his BBC contract up to the World Cup in Russia prevents him from doing so.
Is Graves going soft?
ECB chairman Colin Graves, who has been in Australia throughout the Ashes, says there will be no witch-hunt following the 4-0 humiliation.
This is the same Graves who, as chairman of Yorkshire, reacted to their relegation in 2011 by branding the county’s performances a ‘disgrace’ and ‘unacceptable’. Yorkshire’s four coaches were sacked or told to re-apply for their jobs.
Perhaps Graves, 69, is going soft in his old age. He mixed with the England squad during the trip and even organised a Christmas beach barbecue for them in Melbourne after they had surrendered the urn.
ECB chairman Colin Graves has said there will be no witch-hunt after England’s Ashes defeat
The reforms suggested by the FA in the wake of the Eni Aluko-Mark Sampson dispute include televising FA Council meetings.
It will not make riveting viewing.
The usual suspects — including fans’ representative Dr Malcolm Clarke and Oxford University’s Richard Tur — do most of the talking, and the bulk of the council only get really agitated when their perks are under threat.
The joint bid from the USA, Canada and Mexico to host the 2026 World Cup still looks the overwhelming favourite.
But Morocco have hired Mike Lee’s Vero Communications, who helped Qatar beat the USA for 2022, to help with strategy.
And Donald Trump’s ‘s***hole’ comment is expected to swing votes Morocco’s way.
Morocco hired Mike Lee’s Vero Communications in bid to win 2026 World Cup hosting rights