Blatter invites England bid for 2018 World Cup

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The Independent Football

"They should bid - it is the homeland of football," he said. "They are building stadia and other facilities for the Olympics, Wembley is almost finished and maybe they would be used for a World Cup bid."

Formal bids for the finals, which under Fifa's rotation policy will be in Europe, have to be launched in 2010.

Six countries have already qualified for next year's finals and the reigning world champions Brazil can join them with victory over Chile in Brasilia this weekend. They must do so without Ronaldinho, the world player of the year, who is suspended, but Carlos Alberto Parreira can still field a front pairing of Adriano and Ronaldo, supported by Kaka and Robinho.

"Having four forwards doesn't mean that you're going to score lots of goals in every game," said Parreira.

"We hope it works against Chile so we can continue with this formation for a while longer - who knows, even until the World Cup. But if it doesn't work, we'll have to change. If they don't get it right we're very vulnerable."

Brazil are one of half a dozen countries who can book a place in Germany this weekend; Ukraine and Ivory Coast are hoping to reach the finals for the first time. Ukraine are unbeaten in European Group Two and victory in Georgia today will enable the Milan striker Andrei Shevchenko to grace a major international stage for the first time.

The most heated atmosphere is likely to be in Abidjan, where an Ivory Coast victory tomorrow will put Cameroon out of the finals for the first time since 1986.

The Cameroon squad have each been offered a $2,000 (£1,100) qualification bonus by their own centre-forward, Samuel Eto'o.