England make final World Cup push

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The Independent Online

England 2018 have dispatched envoys across the world this week in a last effort to secure votes ahead of next week's World Cup vote.

The biggest drive for support will come in Kuala Lumpur, where a four-strong team have headed to the Asian footballer of the year awards.

England 2018 chairman Geoff Thompson, chief executive Andy Anson and ambassador Paul Elliott are being joined by Jeremy Hunt, the secretary of state for culture, media and sport, to woo the four Asian members of the 22-man executive committee who will vote on the World Cup hosts.

Winning the support of South Korea's Chung Mong-Joon could hold the key to England's hopes but nothing is guaranteed - and he did not vote for them when they bid for the 2006 tournament.

Chung, a FIFA vice-president, has also confirmed that he views the banning of two fellow executive committee members last week following allegations in the Sunday Times as too harsh.

"I personally believe the disciplinary measures on the two executive committee members are excessive," he told reporters in Seoul.

England 2018 do fear there could be a backlash against them from FIFA members unhappy with the British media, but Japan's Junji Ogura is expected to support England. Mohamed Bin Hammam and Worawi Makudi are thought to be in Spain/Portugal's camp.

David Dein, the former Arsenal and FA vice-chairman who is England 2018's international president, has travelled to Rio de Janeiro where he will hope to have informal meetings with FIFA president Sepp Blatter and Brazil's FIFA member Ricardo Terra Teixeira.

The global goodwill campaign involving English football will also arrive in Trinidad this week where there will be an FA and Premier League-backed presentation to officials from 40 countries from the CONCACAF federation.

One of the speeches will be on the role of British newspapers in football.

The trip is not part of England 2018's campaign and was planned some months ago, before the Sunday Times' expose of corruption among FIFA officials.

FIFA will vote on the 2018 World Cup hosts on December 2 in Zurich. Russia and Holland/Belgium are also bidding.

That will be immediately followed by a vote for the hosts of the 2022 tournament and controversy continues to dog that contest too, as a war of words has broken out at the highest level over criticism of Qatar's bid due to extreme temperatures in the country in June/July.

Bin Hammam, the Qatari head of Asian football, has pointed the finger at potential heat problems in the USA, who are bid rivals.

His comments come after FIFA's inspectors warned of a potential risk to players and officials from the heat in Qatar, which can top 50 degrees Celsius, and fellow FIFA member Chuck Blazer saying: "You can air condition a stadium, but I don't see how you can air-condition an entire country."

That was in reference to Qatar's insistence they would use cooling systems inside the stadiums, and Bin Hammam has hit back saying on his personal blog, saying: "In the 1994 World Cup in the United States... some of the matches were played in mid-day in temperatures as high as 50degC.

"I asked [my counterpart] whether or not anyone had criticised the US for putting the players' and officials' health in danger.

"On the contrary, even the American fans forgot about the heat, and yet applied for another World Cup posting in less than 16 years from the time they last hosted."

FIFA's inspectors rated Qatar a high overall operation risk to stage the World Cup. USA were a low risk, but a medium overall legal risk due to a lack of necessary government guarantees.

Australia received the best technical report among 2022 bidders, narrowly ahead of South Korea. Japan also had issues over government guarantees.

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