Blatter: English game "run by idiots"

FIFA President Sepp Blatter thought English football "was run by idiots" which was a reason why England failed to win the right to stage the 2018 World Cup finals, according to a new book by Sebastian Coe.

Twice Olympic 1,500 metres champion Coe became involved in England's bid after leading London's successful bid in 2005 to hosts this year's Olympic Games.

He was later appointed by Blatter to chair FIFA's Ethics Committee but stepped down from that role to work unpaid to help bring the World Cup back to England for the first time since 1966.

But, he says, almost from the start of his involvement he felt the bid was doomed to fail.

"It's got the smell of death about it," he told fellow executive Keith Mills, the chief executive of the London Olympic bid, after the two attended their first England 2018 meeting together.

"I had been truly shocked by the vituperative nature of the meeting I had just witnessed. There was thinly disguised contempt around the table."

After the bid failed, with only two FIFA votes, one of which was from England's own delegate Geoff Thompson, Coe said much of the blame was laid at the door of the British media who had heavily criticised FIFA in the run-up to the vote in Zurich on December 2 2010.

"I am less willing to lay the blame at the media's door," Coe says. "Ultimately the fault, I believe lies with the awful dysfunctionality of the English game, its personalities and politics.

"First you have the FA, which is the regulatory body. Then you have the Premier League... then you have the big clubs and the moguls including [Roman] Abramovich at Chelsea and the Glazers at Manchester United, not forgetting the big beast managers such as Alex Ferguson and Arsene Wenger.


"This has always been a very uncomfortable set of relationships, at best strained. The fact they didn't trust each other and didn't much like each other was a problem.

"The FA distrusted the Premiership, the Premiership distrusted the FA and Brian Mawhinney, as chairman of the Football League, wasn't comfortable with any of them."

Against this background, says Coe, his "instincts" were that Blatter always wanted to take the World Cup to Russia, which is what transpired, However, he said, people who believed Blatter wanted that outcome because he hated England were wrong.

"He doesn't. He's Swiss and like a lot of Swiss, he's rather fond of England. 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, its 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, its not run by bright people'... I was obviously disappointed, very disappointed."

Coe's book Running My Life - The Autobiography is being serialised in The Times bef