Thursday, October 25, 2007

England get the Blatter blessing

England get the Blatter blessing.
Sepp Blatter has officially welcomed an England big for the 2018 World Cup, but stressed the FA faces stiff competition from other nations before it can pop open any champagne.

The FIFA President met UK Prime Minister Gordon Brown at 10, Downing Street yesterday to discuss England's desire to stage the tournament.

The home of football is the obvious choice as host if the World Cup returns to Europe following stops in South Africa in 2010 and, as is likely, Brazil in 2014.

"England is the motherland of football and I'd welcome a bid for 2018," said Blatter.

"But England will not be the only candidates. As well as China and Australia, there are the United States, Mexico and perhaps Canada. In Europe there is Russia and I will have talks with Holland and Belgium next month about whether a combined candidature is valid."

All those candidates with the exception of England, Mexico and the United States can plead they have never hosted the finals before, but should the consensus in FIFA's corridors be that a return to Europe is advisable, England's pulling power as a footballing, economic and media center surely puts the FA in the driving seat.

But World Cups are decided by intense lobbying of FIFA's executive committee, not by merit alone, and England will have to learn the lessons from their failed bid for 2006. A blessing from Blatter is not necessarily a cause for celebration either - the Swiss repeatedly advocated South Africa's candidature for the last finals but Germany ended up pipping them at the death.

While welcoming an English bid yesterday, Blatter provided more information on the imminent jettisoning of the much-criticised rotation policy for World Cup hosting. After previous rumours abounded that the previous two host confederations would be prevented from bidding, yesterday Blatter said that only the immediately previous confederation would be exempt. This would mean any country could bid every three tournaments to host the event.

Apart from speaking on World Cup matters, the FIFA President attended a service in Sheffield Cathedral to commemorate 150 years of Sheffield FC, the world's oldest existing football club. Blatter also unveiled a bust of co-founder William Prest, who with Nathaniel Creswick, started a worldwide revolution.

(c) Sean O'Conor & Soccerphile

1 comment:

janpiero said...

The matter is... Lions don't feel hungry!!