Football: Nationwide back World Cup bid

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The Independent Online
British business' pounds 1m backing for England's bid to land the 2006 World Cup started in earnest yesterday as the Nationwide Building Society became the first company to sign up.

Britain's biggest building society was revealed as the first official supporter of the 2006 World Cup campaign. The Nationwide, currently in the second year of their sponsorship of the Football League, are in the vanguard of a range of household-name, world-renowned British firms set to unveil their support for the 2006 bid.

Up to 10 companies are set to be part of the bid team, with the Football Association hoping for expert advice and support in promoting the bid at home and internationally. The British Airways chairman, Sir Colin Marshall, a vigorous supporter of the bid, has been leading the initiative to sign up British businesses, with more backers set to be unveiled later this month.

The World Cup bid chief, Alec McGivan, hoping to tie up company support worth around pounds 1m, described Nationwide's public backing as "a welcome and crucial first step to getting business on board".

Germany and South Africa are already confirmed rivals, with a bid also likely to come from either Brazil or Argentina, and McGivan added: "We want the best of British backing our bid. We are uniting the whole country, from the Prime Minister to the ordinary football fan, and now, with the involvement of leading companies, we will be seen by the international footballing world as a truly national campaign."