Handbags at dawn

23 October 2009
If a supplier offered you designer handbag as an incentive to winning business, how would you react? I would hope such brazen gift pushing would be rejected out of hand and the vendors’ name noted in a black book. But, as the BBC has uncovered, when it comes to bidding on major sporting events, these ethics are not so clear. Yesterday, the broadcaster revealed that England’s 2018 World Cup bid team plan to give “luxury handbags” to the wives of all 24 members of Fifa's voting committee. Richard Caborn, ambassador for England’s bid insists the team is working within the rules, but the move has been condemned in certain corners. Shadow sports minister Hugh Robertson said the gifts were "a massive misjudgement". This surely raises questions over the integrity of the whole bidding procedure. At its core, it is fundamentally a procurement process, with competing suppliers aiming to win a money spinning and hugely prestigious contract. As such, Fifa should learn from buyers and adopt standards where gift giving is not tolerated and sporting events are awarded solely on the merit of the most competitive supplier.
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