Fifa issue glowing praise for World Cup bid

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The Independent Football

FIFA's six-man inspection team of the England 2018 World Cup bid today issued a glowing closing statement at the conclusion of their four-day visit, with just one question mark - accommodation.

The FIFA team, led by Chilean federation president Harold Mayne-Nicholls, praised England's readiness to host the tournament, the level of government support, the world-class stadia, the passion for the game in the country, the social projects of clubs and the involvement of youth.

Mayne-Nicholls told England 2018 chief executive Andy Anson in Manchester today that a number of aspects of the bid were "perfect", before departing for Manchester Airport.

But with a decision of who will host the 2018 and 2022 tournaments set to be voted on by FIFA's executive committee in Zurich on December 2, Anson and his team must prove the required level of accommodation is present.

Mayne-Nicholls said: "All the needs and objectives of our visit were met and we are positive that the World Cup in England in 2018 or 2022 would be a great experience with a long-lasting legacy for the country and its people as well as for football worldwide.

"The concept you are coming up with that every single participating team will be hosted by a domestic professional team makes perfect sense to us.

"It will guarantee that all the teams will be able to practise in perfect conditions.

"Concerning public transportation and event facilities, there seems to be no problem in hosting an event of such scope.

"This also counts for safety and security matters. One thing FIFA are particularly focused on is accommodation as we need a very high number of quality rooms.

"This is why we ask all bidders for a certain number of contracted hotel rooms.

"We trust that you will be able to fulfil the necessary requirements."

Mayne-Nicholls described the warm welcome the inspectors received in London, the north-east and north-west of England during their visit.

He added: "They have organised the visit in a perfect way, with great professionalism, but also with a sense of friendship and hospitality."

He also congratulated Prime Minister David Cameron and his wife Samantha on the birth of their daughter this week and said it was right of the PM to miss the visit of the FIFA team.

"FIFA is a family too and we fully understand why he could not be with us - the Prime Minister took the right decision," said Mayne-Nicholls.

"Family is the most important thing in life, of course more important than football and that is a lesson for everyone."

At the end of a visit which began with Cameron's deputy Nick Clegg describing England's bid as "unbeatable", Anson promised the issues arising from this week will be addressed by FIFA's deadline.

Anson said: "Your questions and observations have been hugely helpful in identifying areas where we need to focus and rest assured, we will answer every question diligently, respectfully and in full with a guarantee of delivery to you before your end-of-September deadline."

Anson also again took a final opportunity to highlight the benefits of England hosting the tournament, such as the geographical size of the country and the availability of world-class stadia.

"Many elements of our proposals are in place and with some small adaptations would be competition-ready," he said.

"The same can be said of our training sites, the venues for the preliminary and final draw, FIFA congress, the international broadcast centre, the hotels and the transport infrastructure.

"And, of course, working with FIFA we must improve what we have - and we will do."

Anson insisted England has the experience and credentials required for hosting events of the World Cup's magnitude and vowed to deliver "the greatest possible FIFA World Cup here in 2018" in partnership with FIFA, for the benefit of the global population.

He added: "We will guarantee that FIFA and global football will see a legacy that will last for generations which benefits millions of people worldwide in each of FIFA's 208 member associations.

"Everything we've said this week leads to this focus on a global legacy.

"It explains why we believe that it will truly be a FIFA World Cup for the world."