FIFA have strenuously denied a claim by a British MP that they are pressurising the British government to remove the World Cup from the list of sports events that must be shown on terrestrial television or risk England missing out on hosting the 2018 tournament.
Labour MP John Grogan said in a parliamentary debate yesterday that ministers had told him that FIFA had warned them the bid to stage the World Cup would be under threat if the majority of the tournament stayed on the protected list.
FIFA insisted that was not the case but confirmed it did not believe all the World Cup matches should be listed.
The world governing body said in a statement today: “FIFA has never asked the UK to remove the FIFA World Cup from the list of sports events that must be shown on free-to-air television.
“It is FIFA’s view that, in accordance with European Community law and in line with most member states who notified their lists to the European Commission, only the opening match, semi-finals, final and national team matches of the FIFA World Cup should be listed.
“In addition, no mention has ever been made by FIFA of relating this matter to the 2018 and 2022 FIFA World Cup bid process. The bid process has no relation whatsoever with the list of sports events to be shown on free-to-air TV.”
Former Football Association executive director David Davies is heading a review of the list to decide which sporting events should feature.
Grogan, MP for Selby, said in a parliamentary debate at Westminster Hall yesterday: “I wish to warn the House and, indeed, football supporters up and down the country, that FIFA has made it perfectly clear to ministers and the Football Association authorities that if we want to get the World Cup in 2018, we have to amend our listed events legislation and that we have to substantially de-list the World Cup.
“Ministers and the FA authorities are under pressure, which is one – although not the only – reason why the listed events review has been brought forward.”