The English FA’s decision to snub the trans-Tasman Women’s World Cup bid has been labelled disrespectful by FFA chief executive James Johnson.
Despite scoring 4.1 out of five in a Fifa evaluation report compared to Colombia’s 2.9 score, the combined Australia and New Zealand bid was overlooked by English FA chairman Greg Clarke in the vote at the Fifa Council meeting.
Clarke’s vote was part of a block decision by the Uefa confederation, which gave the South Americans eight of their final tally of 13 votes.
While it had little impact on the final margin, with the Australia and New Zealand bid claiming 22 votes, the snub by England left Johnson fuming.
“I actually don’t find it very funny,” Johnson told Fox Sports. “I think that was quite disrespectful to be perfectly honest with you.
“It was a process that was, I think, run very well by Fifa … we scored very highly on a report that was an objective report. We know now what the voting was like, and I must say we are disappointed with the way that the FA voted.”
Clarke’s decision to align with the Colombian bid appeared set when reports emerged before the vote he had refused to take a phone call from New Zealand prime minister Jacinda Ardern.
Europe’s decision to snub Australia was no issue after Fifa chairman Gianni Infantino, and the CAF (Africa) and CONCACAF (North America) delegates backed the trans-Tasman bid.
Johnson said overall he was happy with Fifa’s voting process, which has been revamped following the controversial decision to award Qatar the 2022 World Cup.
“The way that the reports were drafted, and the way the scoring went I think was reflective of the work that certainly our bid had done,” he said.
“There’s always a little bit of angst when you get into the political part of the process but I think it’s a fair process, the voting will often reflect the bid evaluation report and I think that’s where we landed.”
Infantino admitted he was surprised to see a block vote in favour of Colombia from football’s most powerful confederation but refused to criticise the decision, calling it “democracy”.
Uefa said in a statement their vote for Colombia was an attempt to try to increase the growth of the women’s game in South America and their block vote was a solidarity agreement by the European members of the FIFA Council.
“It was a choice between two countries – Australia and New Zealand – where women’s football is already strongly established, and a continent where it still has to be firmly implanted and has a huge development potential.”