Football: Cup hint for SA

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The Independent Online
ENGLAND'S hopes of staging the World Cup in 2006 received a setback yesterday as the favourite to take over as head of Fifa implicitly told South Africa to make a bid. The Uefa president, Lennart Johansson, spelled out the bad news for the Football Association's campaign as he officially launched his candidature to replace Joao Havelange as Fifa president.

The Swede is desperate for support from around the world and not just his European power base, particularly with the news that current Fifa secretary general Sepp Blatter is likely to stand as well. Aked about his feelings on where future World Cups should be held, Johansson said: "I believe in the rotation principle. If Africa is really ready for the World Cup - and they need to know that years beforehand - then any bid would be a serious candidate."

Johansson, however, did not rule out the possibility that a European bid - even a co-hosting bid by England and Germany - would be successful. He said: "If England and Germany want to co-host they have to come to us and say they want to. Then we will have to see what the answer will be."

The Football Association have charged Solihull Borough and a referee over allegations of bribery following the club's FA Cup first round tie with Darlington.

The match at Feethams on 15 November ended in a 1-1 draw and two Darlington officials have claimed that they saw referee John Paul Robinson accept money from the Dr Martens League club.

FA spokesman Steve Double said: "Both the referee and Solihull Borough face misconduct charges and they are also charged with breaking rule 26(A5), which bans clubs and match officials from offering or accepting any consideration whatsoever to influence the result of a match. Both parties have requested personal hearings and have made it clear that the charges will be defended."

Nottingham Forest have been cleared by fraud squad officers of allegations of malpractice over transfers during the Brian Clough era at the club following claims made in the Premier League commission "bung" investigation.