In a turn of phrase more befitting an episode of The Man from U.N.C.L.E than an interview regarding the upcoming World Cup 2018 voting ceremony in Zurich, the chief executive of the Spain/Portgual bid, Miguel Angel Lopez, has claimed that ‘all the fish are sold’ and that the Iberian campaign may have already (theoretically) garnered at least 7 and as many as 8 of the 22 votes available.
Lopez, who had previously allowed Spanish FIFA executive committee member Angel Maria Villar Llona to deal with the public duties relating to the Spain/Portugal bid, insisted that he is now ‘moderately confident’ of securing the next World Cup – although he also acknowledged, during an extremely brief interview with Bloomberg, that the voting which is scheduled to take place in Zurich next week is almost bound to be a close-run contest:
“It won’t be a big win in our favour or a big loss against us.”
England’s bid team are hoping that a last-minute lobbying offensive from the likes of prime minister David Cameron, England’s gilded show pony David Beckham and heir to throne Prince William may be enough to claw back the ground (i.e. votes) that they seem to have lost thanks to the various corruption exposés carried out by the British media into FIFA’s particular modus operandi – although Lopez believes that it will be a case of too little too late.
Indeed Spain/Portugal are intending to roll out their footballing big guns for the final push, with Lopez formally asking Real Madrid to let Cristiano Ronaldo and Iker Casillas (the captains of Portugal and Spain respectively) to attend the vote – with Real manager Jose Mourinho also invited to tag along.
However, even if the Merengues trio are freed up to travel to Zurich, Lopez admitted that their appearance would probably be too late to still have any kind of influence on the vote, adding cryptically:
“All the fish are sold.”
…before presumably using the one hand he wasn’t using to conceal the hilt of a pistol to slide an unmarked briefcase, filled to the hilt with incriminating documents pertaining to the Cold War, across the large formica table at which he was huddled.
‘Twas not so very long ago that the Spain/Portugal bid was investigated by FIFA following claims of collusion with Qatar’s 2022 bid, in which it was alledged that the Iberians may have secured an ill-gotten bloc of at least seven votes.
However, FIFA’s Ethics committee ruled last week that there were no ‘sufficient grounds’ to provide a ruling either way, a dead rubber that Lopez is taking as a sign of definite absolution:
“If there was something to find, [FIFA] would have done more. They did what was necessary, but their procedures showed nothing.”
Yet still, Lopez retains a high level of optimism over the fact that he can count on the support of the four Asian delegates that currently sit on the FIFA executive committee – namely president of the Asian Football Confederation Mohamed Bin Hammam, Thailand’s Worawi Makudi, Japan’s Junji Orgura and South Korea’s Chung Mong Joon.
Spain/Portugal are also hoping to capitalise on the hard work of their conquistador forefathers, in claiming the manifest rights to the votes of the three South American executives involved, as Latin America is, according to Lopez, their ‘natural territory’.
So, as you can delineate for yourselves, thanks to FIFA’s exhaustive investigation into the Spain/Portugal/Qatar bids (which consisted of two emails being sent, in case your were wondering) there is absolutely no room left for collusion in the World Cup voting system.
Aren’t they good?