Football: Backing for 2006 World Cup bid

England have a tremendous chance of staging the World Cup in 2006 thanks to the success of Euro 96. That is the unanimous verdict of some of the country's leading football experts who were in Brighton for the Labour Party conference to add their support for the bid.

"We have a very good chance of staging the World Cup. We should be very optimistic about the bid. It's been a long time since we staged it. It's too long really - 1966," the England coach, Glenn Hoddle, told BBC Radio 5 Live.

"We showed last year that we can stage a top class tournament in this country with Euro 96 last summer. "And quite honestly I think that the stadiums are already ready now.

"We have to make sure that the bid is secure and that we are up there shouting with all the rest. It's not only Germany. I'm sure there's going to be a few others bidding as well."

The former England striker Gary Lineker, now a TV presenter, said: "We've got a genuine chance. I think there's no question we've got the strongest bid... It's hard to see one real negative if you look at it and that's saying something. We had to demonstrate that there were one or two question marks against England staging a major competition after all the problems of 10 years ago.

"The only question mark around the security problem were answered by Euro 96 and I think we probably had the most friendly - as regards fans - tournaments that has ever been held. It was really memorable.

Geoff Hurst, England's hat-trick hero in the 1966 World Cup final win over Germany, at Wembley agreed:

"We showed that we can hold a major tournament without the violence that everybody thought we may have and staged one of the most successful European tournaments ever, if not the most successful.

"There's a lot passion involved in sport which is unbelievable, but it did not overspill in Euro 96. There was a great atmosphere. The passion was there but it was controlled and the whole thing was run very well," he said.