England's 2018 World Cup bid 'damaged' by bad PR and British media

England's dismal defeat in the contest to host the 2018 World Cup was down to failed PR, poor leadership and aggressive reporting from the UK media, comms experts have argued.

England bid defeated: World Cup
England bid defeated: World Cup

England were knocked out in the first round yesterday after picking up just two of the 22 FIFA executive committee votes, as Russia went on to secure the victory.

Eulogy chief executive Adrian Brady criticised the England 2018 bid's comms strategy, saying it should have thought about a ‘longer-term campaign based on the power of the collective voices of the football-mad English public’.

‘A campaign which emphasised the rewards for the average member of the public and in which they were seen as true spokespeople - with a real personality marshalling and leading them throughout the process - may have resulted in better communication on the factual side and better leeway with delegates on the emotional side,’ said Brady.

He added that the BBC's Panorama programme on FIFA corruption broadcast on Monday and the Sunday Times investigation into the ethics of FIFA members were ‘undoubtedly related’ to the defeat.

‘The British media are free to report impartially and no sporting loss should ever allow this position to be challenged. On the other hand, had there been true leadership of the FA, in the eyes of the international community, I've no doubt that FIFA members would have treated the revelations differently.’

University of Westminster visiting professor of public relations Trevor Morris agreed that the extraordinarily low number of votes for the England bid ‘do suggest that the Sunday Times and Panorama investigations had an impact’.

‘I think most people, at least on reflection, would rather have a free and vigorous press than a few weeks of World Cup,’ added Morris.

Threepipe co-founder Eddie May added: ‘It's an intensely political process and Panorama may have been the nail in the coffin. With hindsight we may not have had a chance as FIFA seem intent on taking it to developing nations and Sepp Blatter is pretty anti-England.’

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