World Cup snub: England refused to answer Ardern’s call
Yes, Australia and New Zealand won the right to host the 2023 Women's World Cup. And won comfortably with a 22-13 vote against Colombia.
But a closer inspection of the voting revealed a villain in England's Football Association boss Greg Clarke.
Despite plans for the trans-Tasman tournament being marked significantly higher than Colombia by FIFA's technical committee, Clarke still sided with his European colleagues by voting against the Aussies and Kiwis. Bloody dodgy Poms.
Clarke fell in line with UEFA's stance the South American bid could do more for the game given it's already well-established in Australia and New Zealand.
Colombia is as football-mad as any country on the planet but to this point hasn't quite backed the women's game as well as it could have.
"Even though the Colombian bid was not the one rated highest technically by FIFA, European members of the FIFA council felt it represented a strategic opportunity for the development of women's football in South America thanks to the legacy and increase of attention for the women's game that the tournament would bring to the continent," UEFA explained in a statement.
"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. It's important to add that European members of the FIFA council agreed to vote together on major issues as a matter of solidarity."
ENGLAND REFUSED TO ANSWER ARDERN'S CALL
The Guardian reports Clarke and France's representative Noel Le Graet were "frustrated at the position they found themselves" following a "perceived steamrollering of the decision" in UEFA's meeting ahead of the vote.
But reporter Suzanne Wrack indicated Clarke was forced to toe the line because he's up for re-election as a UEFA representative on the FIFA council next year and would also be conscious of keeping the right people on side as England bids to host the men's 2030 World Cup.
He was such a team player he even turned down a call from New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern, who did a ring-around this week in a bid to sway votes.
Football reporters from England were surprised by Clarke's decision.
The Athletic UK's Matt Slater tweeted: "Wow, Greg Clarke, the chairman of the English FA, voted for Colombia instead of a technically superior bid from Australia & N Zealand."
So FA Chair Greg Clarke voted for Colombia, according to this breakdown of votes for the 2023 Women’s World Cup, despite FIFA’s technical evaluation, which regarded the Aus-NZ bid as far superior.— Dan Roan (@danroan) June 25, 2020
Colombia’s 13 votes came from S America & UEFA, everyone else picking the winner.. pic.twitter.com/IgnSNr5hVI
All of Colombia's 13 votes came from Europe and South America, but with FIFA chairman Gianni Infantino and the CAF (Africa) and CONCACAF (North America) delegates voting in favour of Australia and New Zealand, it wasn't a close contest.
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".
Socceroos legend Tim Cahill had the best response to Australia's win, tweeting "football's coming home" - a cheeky poach of England's famous catchcry.
Originally published as England refused to answer Ardern's call
Lots of speculation about Greg Clarke’s vote. If he followed UEFA’s lead & backed Colombia it could, theoretically, get Europe behind UK/Ire for 2030 WC. But that would annoy Asia/Oceania voters. It would also undermine impact of a good technical report. Can’t have it both ways.— Matt Slater (@mjshrimper) June 25, 2020