Blatter boost for 2018 bid

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The Independent Online

England's hopes of staging the 2018 World Cup have been boosted at the very start of a four-day inspection of their bid, with FIFA president Sepp Blatter admitting it would be "easy" to stage the tournament in the country.

Blatter did also, however, warn that Russia will be very powerful opponents in the bidding contest, nevertheless England 2018's bid team will be buoyed by the comments at the start of the visit by a six-man FIFA inspection team.



Speaking in Singapore today, Blatter told http://www.insideworldfootball.biz: "The easiest way to organise the World Cup is to go to England.



"Everything is there - fans, stadiums, infrastructure - it's easy."



He also insisted England's disappointing performances at the World Cup in South Africa this summer would have no bearing on the bid - World Cup winners Spain are also bidding jointly for 2018 with Portugal. Holland and Belgium are in the contest too, also as joint bidders.



Blatter said: "The performances of bidding countries' national teams does not matter, definitely not.



"It is the quality of their bid that matters."



Russia are viewed as England's biggest rivals to win the vote by FIFA's executive committee on December 2 and Blatter appeared to support that.



He added: "You cannot deny Russia if they bid for something.



"They are more than a country. They are a big continent, a big power."



The FIFA inspection team, led by Chilean federation president Harold Mayne-Nicholls and including South Africa's World Cup organising chief Danny Jordaan, were due to meet Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg at a reception at Downing Street later today.



Clegg will emphasise the Government's commitment to England's bid and will be joined by culture secretary Jeremy Hunt and sports minister Hugh Robertson along with an England 2018 delegation led by chairman Geoff Thompson.



The inspection team will then meet Fabio Capello at Wembley where they will tour the stadium and watch a community coaching session alongside the England boss on the pitch.



Clegg said: "I am delighted to welcome the FIFA inspection team to Downing Street and to have the chance to communicate the Government's 100% backing for the world-class bid which the England 2018 bid team has put together."



England 2018 chief executive Andy Anson added: "We are delighted to welcome Harold Mayne-Nicholls and his FIFA inspection team to Wembley Stadium on the first day of their visit.



"We are looking forward to bringing our proposals to life by providing the inspectors with opportunities to experience some of our facilities first-hand and to take part in a range of presentations involving football people, from greats of the game through to community coaches and volunteers.



"We believe our bid book represents a strong proposal to FIFA that will focus on what it can do for football all over the world."



Wembley will be the first football facility visited by the FIFA inspectors.



They will also travel to the north-east and north-west of England during their visit, which aims mainly to assess the technical aspects of the bid.

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