A new book by Lord Sebastian Coe has revealed that FIFA president Sepp Blatter thought English football was being ‘run by idiots’ prior to the failed 2018 World Cup bid.
Coe was an important part of England’s bid process which only garnered two official votes and he admits that the chances of successfully hosting the tournament became apparent after the first organising committee meeting, telling fellow executive Keith Mills that FIFA delegates simply weren’t interested.
“It’s got the smell of death about it,” Coe wrote. “I had been truly shocked by the vituperative nature of the meeting I had just witnessed. There was thinly disguised contempt around the table.”
The most alarming revelation in the book is that Blatter always wanted Russia to earn hosting rights, although Coe insists it is not because the president hates England but because he detests the structure of English football.
“He doesn’t [hate England]. He’s Swiss and like a lot of Swiss, he’s rather fond of England,” Coe said. “He likes the political stability, he likes the pomp and tradition. What he always has a problem with is the English game. And from his perspective, it is not hard to understand.
“As president of the international federation he sees the unwillingness of English clubs to release players for international duty. He sees the purchasing power of the English game – big-name clubs buying up players from all over the world.
“And he sees a national federation that, at the time of the bid, had no chairman and no chief executive.
“Blatter once said to me: ‘Your game is run by idiots, it’s not run by bright people’…I was obviously disappointed, very disappointed.”
Coe also withdrew previous claims that media scrutiny of FIFA was to blame for the failed bid, acknowledging that the “awful dysfunctionality of the English game, its personalities and politics” were more influential in the final decision.