England 'favourites' to host 2018 World Cup after Sepp Blatter resignation - Qatar and Russia under pressure

Speculation that Russia and Qatar could be stripped of the right to host the World Cup has increased after the Fifa president announced he was stepping down

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The Independent Football

England are the favourites to host the 2018 World Cup should Russia be stripped of the tournament in light of Sepp Blatter's resignation.

The long-serving Fifa president, who presided over the awarding of the next two World Cups to Russia and Qatar respectively, today announced he was standing down.

The announcement, which comes amid serious and widespread allegations of corruption and bribery in relation to the awarding of the tournaments, has increased speculation that Russia and Qatar could be stripped of hosting rights.

LIVE: Fifa corruption arrests

There is no suggestion by Fifa that the World Cups will switch hands with Fifa's director of communications Walter de Gregorio stating after the arrest of top officials in Switzerland last week that "the World Cups in 2018 and 2022 will be played in Russia and Qatar".

However, calls will likely grow after Blatter was compelled to resign. Chairman of the English FA, Greg Dyke, has said the current hosts should be worried.

Simon Johnson, leader of England's failed bid to stage the 2018 World Cup, said: "There will continue to be these questions over the bidding process. Let's see if the new leadership or interim leadership do anything to resolve that.

"I want the full facts around the bidding to be known - it there was fairness and transparency then good, well done. If it is found there was improper behaviour in any way they must have a look at whether they should reopen the processes."

Asked if he thought the 2018 World Cup would go ahead in Russia, Johnson said: "Yes, the preliminary draw is just a few weeks away, it's too late to change it.

"But 2022 (Qatar) is another matter. I'd hope a fresh regime would take another look at the bidding process."

Should new hosts be found for the next World Cup, which takes place in three years time, England would be the favourites to host it.

Odds issued by Betfair have slashed the odds of Qatar being stripped of the tournament to 9/4 from 4/1. England to host the 2018 tournament are now 12/1. Portugal, Spain, Belgium & Netherlands would also be in the running.

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England last hosted the World Cup in 1966.

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