Britain to consider World Cup bid

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The Independent Online
A combined British bid for the 2006 World Cup could be mounted following the joint award of the 2002 tournament to Japan and South Korea, according to the director of Euro 96, Glen Kirton. It needs, he concedes, England to prove itself a worthy host over the next four weeks.

"I believe England would be capable of staging the tournament itself and I have told the Football Association that we should be looking to make a bid at the earliest possible opportunity," he said yesterday. "But it does make economic sense to share it with another country."

At the time of Manchester's Olympic bid, Kirton says he advocated that the FA look also to Glasgow and Cardiff to host the football tournaments. "The fear is that with a joint bid, certain countries will put pressure on Fifa [the world governing body] to make the four home countries give up their independent status but, although it's a valid fear, I don't think that needs to happen," he added.

Friday's decision has also opened the way for a joint Scandinavian bid, which may have been at the back of the mind of the Uefa president, Lennart Johansson of Sweden, who has struck a blow for Europe against the perceived autocracy of the Fifa president, Joao Havelange, by proposing the 2002 arrangement which, though a compromise, will present knotty ramifications.

A British bid would bypass the problems that these and other countries are likely to face in separate currencies and immigration procedures. At present, Africa and Germany, the latter having already expressed an interest, are ahead - separately - in the thinking for 2006.

Switzerland, England's first Euro 96 opponents on Saturday, fell to a 2-1 home defeat to the Czech Republic in a friendly in Basle last night. The Czechs dominated the first half and took a deserved lead through Pavel Kuka in the 22nd minute. Against the run of play, Marco Grassi equalised 11 minutes later but, although the Swiss improved after the break, Kuka struck again with a fierce shot six minutes from full-time.

The Swiss coach, Artur Jorge, left the pitch to loud boos and whistles from the crowd. He caused a national outcry last week by excluding two of Switzerland's most popular players, Alain Sutter and Adrian Knup, from his Euro 96 squad. Protest banners against Jorge ringed the St Jakob stadium, and the coach caused further displeasure by leaving the experienced Stephane Chapuisat on the bench until the 78th minute.

France produced another impressive result as they extended their unbeaten run under coach Aime Jacquet to 22 games with a 1-0 win over Germany in Stuttgart. Laurent Blanc, Bobby Robson's first signing for Barcelona, scored with a diving header in the sixth minute.

The last time the Germans had lost to the French on home soil was a 3- 1 defeat in a 1954 friendly in Hanover. "We're very proud to have won," Jacquet said, "but we had a bit of luck."

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