A city councillor is refusing to blow the final whistle on hopes of securing World Cup payback for Sunderland - after fears FIFA foul play played a crucial role in Russia beating England to the right to host the 2018 tournament.
Sunderland City Council’s Conservative deputy leader, councillor Michael Dixon, is urging civic leaders to tackle corruption concerns over the nation’s failed bid for the lucrative event by considering legal action.
Coun Dixon has asked Sunderland City Council if they will launch efforts to recoup Sunderland’s £420,000 slice on the doomed World Cup campaign.
The call comes after former FIFA supremo Sepp Blatter revealed last year that a deal to bring the World Cup to Russia had already been sealed before the vote – leaving competitors duped and out of pocket.
Sunderland had been chosen as one of the host cities in any successful England bid. Each potential host city had to pledge £250,000 towards the bid’s marketing budget, with Sunderland spending a total of £421,584.80.
Council leader Paul Wason previously said the authority would ‘consider its options’ in light of the revelations by Blatter.
Cabinet Secretary, Mel Speding, told a full council meeting at Sunderland Civic centre that ‘no decision’ had yet been made on possible legal action - and admitted the authority may need extra time before it could be sure whether to press ahead.
He says it is unlikely a move will be made to salvage funds before the World Cup kicks off in Russia in just over two years time.
Coun Dixon asked; “Will the council consider taking action to recoup money spent on the unsuccessful World Cup bid, given it was a flawed process?”
Coun Speding replied: “No decision has been made. I can’t see any decision being made before 2018, it is unlikely any legal action would be forthcoming or even successful.”
Chief operating officer of England’s 2018 bid Simon Johnson has said the FA are entitled to make a claim against world football’s governing body.
Coun Speding insisted Sunderland’s bid to host games in the global extravaganza was an ‘excellent’ one and the city would not be deterred from pursuing future hosting opportunities in the future.
He said any possible effort to secure money back from the venture would likely be on hold while the Fifa boss, Gianni Infantino, is given a chance to bed into his new position.