FIFA official Harold Mayne-Nicholls said England’s failed bid to host the 2018 World Cup was a big surprise because the country was by far the strongest contender.
“How could England have only got two votes? It was a big surprise,” Mayne-Nicholls was quoted as saying in The Sunday Times.
The 53-year-old, a former Chilean football federation president, was chairman of a FIFA group tasked with assessing the strength and feasibility of the various bids for the 2018 and 2022 World Cup finals.
Having visited all 11 countries bidding, Mayne-Nicholls concluded that England had the best infrastructure and public involvement, crucial facets of any successful bid.
The bid, however, received just two votes from a possible 22 with Russia winning the right to host the 2018 tournament. Qatar secured the 2022 Cup.
“England were on the top. They had the best concept, the best infrastructure and the people were very much involved,” said Mayne-Nicholls.
“I was there and I saw the faces of Prince William and David Beckham, and they were shocked.
“It’s like when you are a first division team and you play a third division team and you lose by five goals,” he said.
Mayne-Nicholls has previously raised concerns about Qatar, whose bid was the only one labelled as high risk by the evaluation committee, due to the searing heat.
He again questioned the logistical issues raised by hosting the tournament in one city and said the transport and infrastructure would not be able to cope with the deluge of fans flocking to the tournament.