BBC and ITV to do battle over World Cup matches in Moscow hotel

  • The BBC and ITV will negotiate over World Cup matches in Moscow on Sunday
  • Diego Maradona must surely have been paid a king’s ransom for World Cup draw 
  • The pre-draw press conference was hijacked by Russia deputy PM Vitaly Mutko
  • Ex-FA chairman Geoff Thompson is still enjoying a ride on the FIFA gravy train

Charles Sale for the Daily Mail

The battle between ITV and the BBC over who screens which World Cup matches at Russia 2018 will be played out on Sunday in Moscow, with the results expected to be announced the next day.

The Big Split, as the two networks are calling it, will be staged at the Stalin-built Hotel Ukraina, with the two teams of negotiators in Russia backed up by advisors in the UK.

The BBC have first choice and are likely to go for England’s marquee group game against Belgium. ITV’s tactics might see them plump first for England’s last-16 match — if they go through — which would see them play Poland, Senegal, Colombia or Japan. Or either side could use their first choice to gamble on a potential England quarter-final against Brazil or Germany

The terrestrial giants agreed to pick alternate games after the stalemate over the 2010 World Cup went on for months.

The BBC and ITV will negotiate over who screens which World Cup matches on Sunday

The BBC and ITV will negotiate over who screens which World Cup matches on Sunday

FIFA have always insisted that Gianni Infantino’s ‘legends’ — the troupe of former players who turn up at FIFA occasions to glad-hand or play exhibition games — are only paid expenses. 

But why would Diego Maradona, by far the biggest legend, turn out to promote FIFA with such unusual reliability? He must surely be paid a king’s ransom.

FIFA insist that legends such as Diego Maradona are only paid expenses for their appearances
FIFA insist that legends such as Diego Maradona are only paid expenses for their appearances

FIFA insist that legends such as Diego Maradona are only paid expenses for their appearances

The Russian World Cup organisers made no secret of their desire for their official WiFi to be used by all media attending the draw in Moscow — with all the extra concerns around Fancy Bears-style hacking that creates.

Officials armed with a Ghostbusters-style machine were moving around the media centre in the Kremlin detecting any private WiFi device brought in to avoid the Russian network. FIFA say the restrictions were decided by the Russian authorities.

Gary Lineker’s £20,000 fee for hosting the World Cup draw might be a very conservative estimate judging by the appearance in Moscow of his agent Jon Holmes, who is rarely seen around sport other than enjoying the hospitality in Brough Scott’s box at the Cheltenham Festival.

The £20,000 fee Gary Lineker received for hosting the draw might be a conservative estimate
The £20,000 fee Gary Lineker received for hosting the draw might be a conservative estimate

The £20,000 fee Gary Lineker received for hosting the draw might be a conservative estimate

Mutko crashes the party

FIFA’s pre-draw press conference was hijacked by Russia’s deputy prime minister Vitaly Mutko in a major PR embarrassment. 

Mutko, sitting alongside FIFA president Gianni Infantino, used the platform to defend Russia over their doping issues, claiming countries including the UK and the US were not subject to the same scrutiny.

Infantino, when asked about sharing the stage, could only say: ‘If Mr Mutko wasn’t here, I would be able to speak more.’ Mutko’s shameless intervention also explains why FIFA have kept their media activity with the Russian organising committee to a bare minimum.

Russia's deputy prime minister Vitaly Mutko caused FIFA a major PR embarrassment
Russia's deputy prime minister Vitaly Mutko caused FIFA a major PR embarrassment

Russia’s deputy prime minister Vitaly Mutko caused FIFA a major PR embarrassment

Former FA chairman Geoff Thompson is still enjoying a ride on the FIFA gravy train, seven years after the doomed 2018 vote when he proved so ineffectual as England’s representative on the voting FIFA ExCo. 

Thompson is chairman of the Dispute Resolution Chamber, earning £78,000 a year plus lavish expenses.

Hassan Al Thawadi, the Sheffield University-educated chief of Qatar 2022’s organising committee, is building up an army of consultants. 

Two of the latest are former FA executive director David Davies and former FIFA communications director Walter di Gregorio. 

Meanwhile, former Manchester United goalkeeper Peter Schmeichel is joining Stan Collymore on Kremlin propaganda station Russia Today.

Peter Schmeichel will join Stan Collymore on Kremlin propaganda station Russia Today
Peter Schmeichel will join Stan Collymore on Kremlin propaganda station Russia Today

Peter Schmeichel will join Stan Collymore on Kremlin propaganda station Russia Today

The USA’s failure to qualify for Russia 2018 looks set to cost US Soccer chief Sunil Gulati his job. There are seven contenders standing for election with Gulati yet to decide whether to enter the crowded field. 

Even more gallingly for Gulati, his close aide, billionaire former Goldman Sachs partner Carlos Cordeiro, has put his hat in the ring.

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