England launch World Cup campaign

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England kicked off their campaign to host the World Cup in 2018 or 2022 with a launch party at Wembley Stadium.

Prime Minister Gordon Brown and England midfielder David Beckham were at the launch, and there was a video message from Prince William.

World Cup bid leaders will be stressing the quality of the stadia, the fans in England and the economic benefits. They will also be at pains to avoid any suggestion that it is England's turn to be hosts.

Football Association chairman Lord Triesman, who is the bid chairman, stressed England's infrastructure and the economic benefits of hosting the World Cup.

Triesman said: "We in England would be truly honoured to host the World Cup and welcome the world.

"We have first-class grounds. We've got good transport links, domestically and internationally. We've got excellent accommodation.

"A World Cup in England would be a truly memorable event - not only for our nation but for every nation.

"We'd extend a wonderful welcome to players and fans from across the world.

"Inside and outside our grounds, we'd share with them our love of the game and our sense of fair play.

"And they would enjoy our diverse culture - one that means England would provide a home-from-home welcome for every fan and player."

Lord Triesman claimed the passion for football in England was key to the bid.

He added: "We believe that England can stage a fantastic festival of football, one that will engage the whole country and deliver positive change for football in England and across the world.

"Now we must persuade our international friends and colleagues of our case. It's easy to say, far less easy to do.

"Our starting point is England's passion for football. It is our national sport, we have a strong football heritage which runs through every town and city.

"Every week hundreds of thousand of fans watch games and millions of people across the world and millions in this country - men women and children - play from pub sides to school teams to the FA Premier League and all of them -hundreds of million of worldwide know the FIFA World Cup is the global pinnacle of the game."

Lord Triesman insisted supporters in England cherished the memories of the biggest sporting events staged in England.

"Ask the people of Liverpool about 1966 and they will tell you about Pele and the star of that tournament Eusebio playing at Goodison Park," he added.

"In Sheffield people remember Davor Sukur's amazing chip for Croatia that sunk the defending champions Denmark at Hillsborough in Euro '96.

"Many of us remember the nailbiting European Cup final here at Wembley in 1992 when Barcelona won the trophy for the first time, defeating Sampdoria in extra-time with Ronald Koeman's brilliant free-kick."

Lord Triesman added: "The positive effect of hosting the World Cup will be felt right through England. It will be the pride, the prestige, excitement of hosting, giving the whole population the opportunity to experience world class football on their doorstep.

"And there will be economic benefits across the whole country and there will be the inspiration it will give to grass roots football, creating anew generation of home grown talent.

"What could be more inspiring than the dream of England winning the FIFA World Cup on home soil, and fuelling the passion for football that we knows burns in hearts and pitches the length and breadth of this country?"

England and Manchester United striker Wayne Rooney claimed the passion displayed by England fans is gives England's bid an advantage.

He said: "The pride and passion of the fans and players is something that cannot be matches by any other team. Hopefully we can bring the World Cup back to England."

The forward intends to be still playing when 2018 comes around.

He added: "I will be 32. When you look at some of the players playing for Manchester United, like (Ryan) Giggs and (Paul) Scholes, hopefully I can keep myself fit."

David Beckham, England's most capped outfield player, said players across Europe admired the atmosphere apparent at stadiums in England.

"There is no bigger support than our fans. The passion that's shown in our country every time someone either puts an England shirt on or any time they play for their club, there are full stadiums everywhere," he said.

"Every time that I played with some of the biggest players in the world - players like (Zinedine) Zidane and Ronaldo - one of the first questions that they all asked me is what is it like playing in England and how much they like the passion that the fans show.

"The passion does not just stop at Premiership level, it goes from Sunday League level and it goes all the way through every league that we've got up to the Premiership."

Prime Minister Gordon Brown vowed to do all he could to ensure the bid was successful.

"It's right for England to host the World Cup. We have a tradition that's second to none, some of our clubs compete successfully with the rest of the world.

"We are home to some of the best in world football and I'm here today for one reason - I want to assure everybody that the Government will do everything it can so that we record a famous victory in this campaign."

The Prime Minister added: "Building on the success of Euro 96 we have the stadium and infrastructure to host the greatest football tournament in the world.

"If we can secure the football World Cup it will be the greatest sporting decade our country has ever seen.

"To host the Olympics and World Cup in one decade will be a mark of how important sport is to our country.

"I promise to make it my personal mission to gather support from around the world."

Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport Andy Burnham added: "England 2018 would be a great celebration of our beautiful game and its power to act as a force for good around the world.

"Our passion for the game will inspire fans everywhere. Such is the reach of the English game and its clubs in Africa that we could make a real difference as hosts, supporting FIFA in its efforts to drive change through football. England's bid would break new ground for football and it has the full backing of the Government.

"England 2018 would be the best way to crown what we hope will be the most memorable and successful decade in our sporting history."