Fri, Nov 02, 2007 - Page 22 News List

England confirms 2018 World Cup bid

COMING HOME? The English Football Association will be hoping for a better result then when its bid for last year's tournament ended in an early elimination in voting

AP , LONDON

Buoyed by a lucrative Premier League, modern stadiums and a vastly improved record on crowd behavior, England confirmed its bid to host the 2018 World Cup on Wednesday.

Two days after FIFA scrapped its policy of rotating the tournament among its confederations, the Football Association wants England to stage it for a second time. England won the 1966 title at home.

"I'm delighted to announce our intention to bid to host the World Cup in 2018," FA chairman Geoff Thompson said. "This follows FIFA's announcement on Monday that the previous rotation policy will be discontinued and the positive comments made by FIFA president Sepp Blatter."

If world soccer's governing body had maintained its rotation policy, Europe most likely would have had to wait many years to hold the event again because Germany staged the last World Cup last year.

Blatter said before FIFA's ruling in Zurich that he would welcome a bid from England, which will probably face opposition from China, Australia, Mexico, the US, Russia, Spain and a joint bid from the Netherlands and Belgium.

England is already off to a fast start with the British government assisting the bid.

"The tremendous support from Prime Minister Gordon Brown and his government has also been a key consideration in today's decision," Thompson said. "I'm delighted the FA board have been so positive in their support for a bid. It would be tremendous for English football and the whole country if we are successful."

The FA also announced on Wednesday that the latest four-year contract for TV coverage of the FA Cup and England games had more than tripled the amount it received from the current deals.

The Premier League already receives huge overseas TV revenue, and with foreign investors either owning or looking to buy clubs, the sport in England is attracting unprecedented financial interest.

The FA is hoping for a better result than when its 2006 bid ended in an early elimination in voting, with Germany edging South Africa, which won the vote for 2010. Brazil will stage the event in 2014.

The 2012 Olympics in London might also help England's bid, although FIFA's executive committee makes its decision in 2011.

"This is the biggest team sport event in the world so it's bound to be a tough contest, but just like the Olympic bid for 2012, I'm sure we can win," Sports Minister Gerry Sutcliffe said.

"England is the home of football, has the best stadiums and our people have a long-standing love affair with the game. I think an England 2018 would be the best World Cup ever staged," he said.

Another advantage for England will be that many of the stadiums needed to stage a World Cup are already built.

Wembley has been rebuilt with a capacity of 90,000, Manchester United's Old Trafford holds 76,000 and Arsenal's Emirates Stadium has 60,000 seats. Liverpool's new stadium -- due to be constructed in 2010 -- will also be available, while the grounds of Newcastle United (St. James' Park), Manchester City (City of Manchester Stadium), Aston Villa (Villa Park) and Sunderland (Stadium of Light) are also big enough to host World Cup games.

English soccer's record in dealing with crowd violence at home has improved considerably since the 1970s and 1980s. While other nations still have problems, soccer in England is comparatively trouble-free because of security measures and the segregation of fans.

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