Inside Lines: World Cup 2018 bid is left in suspense by hung parliament

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The Independent Online

The stock markets are not alone in being affected by the aftermath of last week's election. A hung parliament was not what sport wanted, particularly the Football Association in the light of another election in December – for the 2018 World Cup host. Fifa are unlikely to be impressed if there is still political uncertainty when their own vote is taken because of the financial guarantees an unstable government may be unable to provide. This is a point likely to be emphasised by some of England's richer opponents, among them their most serious rivals, Russia. The Russian bid, which already seems to have the blessing of Fifa president Sepp Blatter, also has powerful political and fiscal support from prime minister Vladimir Putin and Chelsea's owner Roman Abramovich respectively. Now it is to be further bankrolled by another oligarch associated with an English Premier League club. The Uzbekistan-born billionaire Alisher Usmanov, Arsenal's second biggest shareholder, is backing a bid that gathers momentum ominously at a time when England's appears most vulnerable.

'Shamed' Khan gains entry

It was only yesterday, after a 10-day wait in Vancouver, where he had to move his training camp from Los Angeles, that Amir Khan was granted a working visa for his WBA lightweight title defence against Paulie Malignaggi in New York next weekend. Allied to the fall-out from undenied tabloid allegations that he had sent obscene texts and photos to a topless model, it is hardly the sort of preparation Khan would have wanted. There has to be concern in the Khan camp, and among his sponsors, that his image has been seriously tarnished. Having known him well since his early amateur days I share the disappointment of many, should all this be true. Khan himself has always said he is a role model for thousands of kids in Britain, not least the Asian community. Of course he is entitled to a private life – and a previously well-hidden sex life, of which he talks illuminatingly in the latest issue of 'GQ' magazine. There he says that girls are "lining up" to meet him in LA, adding: "They always come back so I must be doing something right." It seems Khan has been seduced by the Hollywood lifestyle, which we must hope does not blight his career or the affection of the British public.

Hammer blow in East End

Boxing will be blowing bubbles next Saturday when Kevin Mitchell challenges Australian Michael Katsidis for the WBO interim title at West Ham's Upton Park. Mitchell boxed as an amateur for West Ham ABC, who the night before have three club members in contention for titles in the ABA Championships at York Hall. Ironically, the club which produced fistic notables like Billy Walker and Nigel Benn, has a fight of its own. Their premises at the nearby Black Lion pub in Olympic heartland are under threat and soon they may have nowhere to go.

Clever fellow, Capello

When Fabio Capello says he will have nothing to do with a World Cup song, he's not a bad judge. A group called The20Teners have made a ditty entitled 'Oh Mr Capello' with a refrain consisting of "Oh Mr Capello, he's such a clever fellow", to a background of "Come on England", repeated ad nauseam. The20Teners? Not worth two bob.



insidelines @independent.co.uk

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