It’s going to take some deft manoeuvring if England is win the bid
to host the 2006 World Cup, says Dick Newby, director of Matrix
’Lions led by donkeys’ was one German Colonel’s damning comment on the
British Army during the First World War.
Today it seems an apt response to the English FA’s bid to host the 2006
World Cup - announced after Euro 96.
Imagine their surprise when, a couple of weeks ago, the FA got a fax
from UEFA (the European Football Association) saying that Germany
already had the European endorsement. ’Foul’ cried the FA.
Meetings were hurriedly organised and the German general secretary of
UEFA was summoned to London. Back-pedalling furiously, UEFA admitted
that no final decision had been taken and England could submit a formal
bid, to be considered alongside the German one. A tactical victory for
the FA leaving England to fight another day. But can it win the war?
England’s UEFA representative is 82-year-old Sir Bert Millichip,
probably not the man to take the FA bid through to 2006. So who are his
One key player is David Davies, the FA’s communications supremo and a
plausible front man. But winning a World Cup bid needs a deft political
touch and strong organisational skills.
Enter Alec McGivan, appointed chief executive of the bid after being
communications director of Euro 96. McGivan was the SDP’s by-election
organiser of the 1980s. The skills honed there must now be used on an
international scale. FIFA delegates from Africa and South America need
to be persuaded to give up their own ambitions - for 2006 at least - and
support England, and UEFA will have to be persuaded to reverse its
preference for Germany.
A winning bid can’t simply be based on modern stadia and crowd
England’s bid should be based on using football to promote racial
equality and should build on the FA’s existing ’kicking racism out of
football’ campaign. It should base its appeal squarely on an anti-racism
platform and get all clubs to take specific initiatives next season.
The next step is to mobilise England’s football enthusiasts with
communications skills in an international promotional and lobbying
operation. The FA should avoid a single international PR company. It
needs the best PR support in Cyprus and Cameroon, Colombia and
No single company can provide this. The FA needs all the support it can
get. Donkeys need not apply