BOBBY CHARLTON, the former England and Manchester United player, has urged the Japanese football authorities not to become complacent in their bid to host the World Cup in 2002.
'The competition is growing, with South Korea, Colombia and Australia also now in the running,' Charlton, who is working for the Japanese, told the committee set up to win the World Cup. 'While we still have the best bid in my view, we cannot afford to get complacent.'
Charlton added that, in the past year, Japan had suffered two reverses. The first was the failure to qualify for the 1994 World Cup. The second was the defeat of the attempt by the World Cup bid committee's general secretary, Tadao Murata, to secure a vice-presidential position for Asia on the executive committee of Fifa, the governing body. 'We lost two battles in Qatar and Kuala Lumpur, but the war goes on,' Charlton said.
'These two reverses will not affect our bid. We must not make the mistake of thinking our competitors will not strive their utmost to get the prize, too. We must not slacken our efforts Describing Japan as a relatively new footballing nation with enormous potential, Charlton said the country's fans were the envy of the world: 'My commitment to bringing the 2002 World Cup to Japan is the same. But we must continue to be professional, confident and strong _ and we will win.'