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England Wanted To Scrap Cup Bid

August 1, 2000

LONDON (AP) _ England wanted to withdraw before the vote for soccer’s 2006 World Cup because it knew it had no chance of winning, former Sports Minister Tony Banks said.

Banks said he and bid chief Alec McGivan gave up any hope after English hooligans went on the rampage in Belgium during the European Championship.

According to Banks, on the night of the violence in Charleroi, he and McGiven flew to New York to meet with FIFA members Chuck Blazer of the United States, David Sasso Sasso of Costa Rica and Trinidad’s Jack Warner.

The three delegates, whose support was crucial to the English bid, advised them England should pull out, Banks said.

Ten days before the July 6 vote, Banks said, he warned Prime Minister Tony Blair that England faced humiliating defeat.

Banks said the bid team recommended to the Football Association that England should withdraw, but that he and McGiven were persuaded to push forward.

``We just knew at that point, although there was an outside chance, to be absolutely realistic, we couldn’t do it,″ Banks told BBC Radio 5 Live. ``We wanted to withdraw but the FA said, `You’ve got to go on.′

``Because, and it’s not an unreasonable line, you’ve got to go on because if you withdraw it’ll be like surrendering to the hooligans. It’ll be like the hooligans have forced us out.″

England was eliminated after the first round of voting. Germany defeated South Africa 12-11 on the final ballot after the New Zealand delegate abstained because of what he said were threats and ``unsustainable pressure.″ South Africa is challenging the vote.

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