Beckham delivers England bid book

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The Independent Online

David Beckham today handed over England's 2018 World Cup bid book to FIFA with the message "football runs through our veins".

At a ceremony at FIFA headquarters in Zurich, the former Manchester United and Real Madrid midfielder spoke of the "passion and emotion" England could bring to the tournament as he led a five-strong delegation to Switzerland.

"I'm here on behalf of our fans," said Beckham.

"Football runs through our veins. We are all brought up on it. It's truly an honour to be here. On behalf of our team, the delegation and our fans, we present you with our bid book."

In thanking the English delegation - second among the nine candidates to present their dossiers - FIFA president Sepp Blatter referred to England as the "motherland" of football and disclosed he had already spoken to Prime Minister David Cameron who had personally endorsed the bid.

"Yesterday I received a phone call from the new Prime Minister. Not only did he express his determination to be behind the bid but he is also behind the World Cup in 2010," said Blatter.

Beckham, England's most capped outfield player, said winning the vote to stage the 2018 World Cup would rank among his greatest achievements.

"It would certainly be up there. What the prospect of having the World Cup brings is huge. I know because I've experienced it."

The next milestone in the bid process is FIFA's technical inspection at the end of August. This ended in tears for England's ill-fated 2006 campaign when they were judged worse than South Africa and Germany.

This time around, however, England bid officials are confident they will suffer no such setback.

Ian Riley, the director of England 2018's technical bid, had the same role for South Africa's bid for the 2006 and 2010 tournaments and has been careful to ensure there will be no repeat.

Riley told Press Association Sport: "I genuinely believe we present a low-risk option to FIFA. One of the biggest risk profiles of staging any major event is construction and we have a really good balance of existing stadiums and new builds and I think that alleviates any risk concerns that you may have."

The final vote will be taken by FIFA's executive committee on December 2.

It is expected that 2018 will go to Europe, where Russia plus joint bids by Spain/Portugal and Holland/Belgium are up against England.

The other countries expected to fight it out for 2022 are Australia, United States, Qatar, Korea and Japan.

A Downing Street spokesman said: "The Prime Minister spoke to FIFA president Sepp Blatter yesterday afternoon, on the eve of England's bid presentation for the 2018 World Cup.

"The PM stressed the new government was absolutely behind England's 2018 bid. He reminded Mr Blatter that football was the national sport and people in England were extremely passionate about football.

"He said that this country has great infrastructure and facilities and has a history of delivering great major sporting events like Euro 96; he said people in England were fully behind the bid.

"The PM also passed on his best wishes for the World Cup in South Africa. Mr Blatter thanked the PM and congratulated him on his appointment."

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