By Ray Fleming

TOMORROW in Geneva the 23 members of the executive committee of FIFA will hold a secret ballot to decide which country or countries should be chosen to stage the 2018 World Cup. Most objective outside opinion is that in respect of facilities, infrastructure and public support, England's bid is the best.

However, the Sunday Times and BBC TV's Panorama programme have both very recently alleged corruption on the part of some FIFA executive committee members and understandably the team which has put England's case together are concerned that these allegations will move sufficient voting intentions to result in a rejection of England's bid. The Sunday Times accusations led to two committee members being suspended but the BBC says that Panorama did not get its information until earlier in November; it informed FIFA and invited a response but the necessary research, legal consultation and production work meant the programme could not go out until this week. Critics of the BBC say that the showing should have been delayed until after FIFA's decision had been made. The BBC replies that it was handling important news of great public interest and that to delay it until it was irrelevant would have been wrong. The BBC's position is correct but that does not mean that it will not come in for fierce criticism if the vote goes against England tomorrow.


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