A businessman who was part of the bid to bring the World Cup to Wearside has welcomed news that football’s governing body is under investigation for corruption.
There was elation at the Stadium of Light in December 2009, with news Sunderland had made the list of host cities as part of England’s bid to host the 2018 World Cup.
But delight turned to despair a year later, with the announcement Russia had been chosen as host in 2018, with Qatar selected for 2022.
Now the awarding of both tournaments is under scrutiny as part of an unprecedented investigation into allegations of corruption in Fifa.
Seven officials, including vice-president Jeffrey Webb from the Cayman Islands, were arrested by Swiss authorities on behalf of the US Department of Justice, which has indicted 18 people alleging bribery totalling more than $150million.
In a separate development, the Swiss attorney general also opened criminal proceedings over the awarding of the 2018 and 2022 World Cups, seizing documents and electronic data from Fifa’s headquarters and revealing 10 executive committee members who voted are to face questions.
There is, of course, an easier way, supported by most football fans, and that is to leave FIFA. This is a perfect opportunity to act.Dr Mick Thurlbeck
Mick Thurlbeck was part of the Sunderland bid team and today welcomed news the awarding process was under investigations.
“As a member of the team who worked extremely hard during 2010 to prepare the Sunderland Bid and then the England bid for the 2018 World Cup, it was devastating to hear we did not get past the first ballot,” he said.
“Let’s hope the current accusations initiate a full independent enquiry into all Fifa operations.
“The English FA should demand such an in-depth investigation as we are, after all, one of Fifa’s biggest funders.
“There is, of course, an easier way, supported by most football fans, and that is to leave FIFA. This is a perfect opportunity to act.”