Clegg backs England's 'unbeatable' bid

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The Independent Football

Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg today highlighted England's "unbeatable bid" as he met the FIFA team inspecting the country's bid to host the 2018 World Cup.

Welcoming the team to Downing Street, Clegg emphasised the coalition Government's commitment to the bid.

Clegg told the delegation: "I believe this is an exceptionally strong, unbeatable bid. We in this Government believe in it, we hope that you will believe in it."

Clegg said the coalition fully backed commitments to the bid made by the previous Labour government.

He told the inspection team: "Our job during your visit is to show you that we already have the infrastructure and facilities to host a fantastic World Cup.

"I'm an MP from a city, Sheffield, which is one of the many cities hoping to host some games during the World Cup and I know from that city that the excitement and the passion which is behind this bid really is very considerable."

He said the competition would have the power to "inspire so many people" across England.

"I think there really are very few nations that can claim the same passion that we have in England for the game of football," he said.

Clegg welcomed the international delegation to No 10 because Prime Minister David Cameron is on holiday.

But Downing Street rejected suggestions that Cameron should have broken off the trip with his family to meet the FIFA team.

"The nature of the visit is technical. The Prime Minister is fully behind the bid and will be involved as the bid progresses," Cameron's official spokesman said.

The FIFA team are being led by Chile Football Federation president Harold Mayne-Nicholls, who said it was a "real honour" to be in No 10 and promised to look objectively at the bid.

"We will work hard with the local organising bid committee to be in the position to write a very fair and complete report to the executive members of FIFA," he said.

"We promise you that we will do our best to have a very objective report."