FA recruits Fifa insiders to bolster bid for 2018

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The Independent Football

The Football Association has appointed two senior consultants, with vast Fifa experience, to aid its 2018 World Cup bid.

The FA chief executive, Brian Barwick, has already confirmed England will enter the race to host football's biggest tournament, even though the winner will not be decided for another four years.

With Fifa, the world governing body, abandoning the rotation policy which would have meant that the World Cup would not have to Europe until 2022, the FA feels it is perfectly placed to mount a successful campaign, unhindered by the political issues which beset efforts to secure the 2006 tournament.

England hosted Euro '96 to some acclaim but it is over 40 years since they held the World Cup. In the intervening period, all the major European football powers – West Germany, Spain, Italy, France and a united Germany – have hosted the tournament.

With China, Australia, the United States and Russia also signalling their intention to bid as well as a combined effort expected from the Euro 2000 hosts, the Netherlands and Belgium, the FA knows that the competition for 2018 will be fierce.

So it appears to have made an astute move in appointing the european consultancy network Ltd (ecn), as its first external advisers on mounting the bid.

Headed by Peter J Hargitay, a special adviser to the Fifa president, Sepp Blatter, since 2002 and with Markus Siegler, Fifa's former communications director, on its payroll, ecn appears perfectly placed to guide the FA through Fifa's political minefield and maximise support among its 24-man executive committee, who will make the eventual decision on the host for the tournament.

Hargitay will terminate his consulting work for Blatter next month in order to avoid any conflict of interest, while Siegler left Fifa after 12 years in October of this year to join the staff at ecn.

"We are delighted to be working with a company that has huge knowledge and experience of international football associations and great individual contacts within the world game," said an FA spokesman.

"We expect a highly competitive bidding process, with several countries from three continents already having voiced an interest to bid for the 2018 World Cup, and it is very important we have such international experience working with us."

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