LONDON (AP) — Former British Prime Minister David Cameron has recalled being told by Prince William to imagine an American FIFA voter naked to ease nerves at a presentation for England’s World Cup bid in a process that was mired in wrongdoing.
Cameron and the prince led an English delegation to Zurich in 2010 which tried to bring the 2018 World Cup to England. But England was knocked out in the first round, winning only two votes from the since-discredited and tainted FIFA executive committee as Russia emerged victorious to host the global soccer showpiece.
Many of the voters were later embroiled in investigations or banned, with Cameron writing in his new autobiography that “the corrupt undertones were all there.”
Chuck Blazer, who later fueled much of a devastating FBI investigation of corruption linked to soccer, was among the voters who received presentations in December 2010 from the World Cup bidding nations.
“My role was to kick it off with a short, off-the-cuff speech,” Cameron wrote in the book that was published Thursday. “I confessed to Prince William I was nervous. He told me not to be — and just to imagine Chuck Blazer naked.”
Cameron had met earlier in Zurich with Blazer, who was the largest man among the 22 voters.
“Blazer was so enormous that as he got up to leave, his chair went with him,” Cameron wrote in “For the Record.”
After becoming an FBI informant, Blazer confessed to taking bribes in the votes for the 1998 and 2010 World Cups. He died in 2017.
During the World Cup bidding, FIFA was led by Sepp Blatter who is now serving a six-year ban by the FIFA ethics committee after being forced from office in 2015. Blatter visited Cameron in Downing Street in 2010 ahead of the World Cup vote.
“He even got to hold (daughter) Florence — a privilege reserved for presidents and monarchs, I joked at the time,” Cameron wrote. “Looking back … it makes me wince.”
Cameron said the corruption at FIFA reflected an issue “that proved to be more prevalent than I had expected.”
“Those same forces that had denied Britain the World Cup,” Cameron wrote, “bribery, lack of transparency, collusion, fraud were depriving people around the world of safer, healthier, wealthier lives.”