Football: Blatter favours African bid

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SEPP BLATTER, the president of football's world governing body, Fifa, yesterday gave a clear indication that an African country will be favoured to host the World Cup in 2006.

"I would say if the conditions [for hosting the 2006 World Cup] are fulfilled by one of the associations bidding in Africa, then logically Fifa should give the World Cup to an African country," Blatter said.

"But it is not my decision. The decision will be of the executive committee and will be taken in the first half of the year 2000.

"England is definitely a good candidate, but other associations will have good documentation. We definitely know the ability of England to organise international football competition after the European Championship in 1996."

Blatter rejected suggestions that South Korea's economy and climate may hamper their ability to host the next World Cup, in 2002, in the traditional months of June and July. "This information was given out by South Korean officials that they would like to play in September," Blatter said.

"The list of requirements and conditions by Fifa were accepted by both Japan and South Korea at the moment of their bid. It was already programmed that the World Cup should take place in June and July. They said it was no problem.

"All of a sudden now they have some problems. We will not enter into discussion on the date of the competition. Where the economical side is concerned, we are not so alarmed by that.

"The Fifa contracts for the basic finance support of this competition - television and marketing rights - are already signed and ensured so we do not have any concern about the economic situation."

Coventry have completed the signing of the Croatian international defender, Robert Jarni, from Real Betis for pounds 2.6m. Jarni still needs a work permit and is not expected to make his home debut until 29 August, against West Ham. The Sky Blues also signed the Jamaican striker, Paul Hall, from Portsmouth for pounds 300,000.

David Unsworth's transfer from Aston Villa to Everton has been delayed. The two clubs have still not been able to reach agreement on the terms for the transfer of the defender, who chose to return to Goodison Park just days after completing a pounds 3m move to Villa from West Ham.