England's bid for 2018 World Cup

Monday, February 12th 2007, 10:32 am
By: News On 6

LONDON (AP) _ The British government agreed to back an England bid to stage the 2018 World Cup even though the Football Association hasn't announced it will be a candidate.

FIFA is expected to rule that the 2018 World Cup will be staged in Europe. England, which already has top-quality stadiums, would be a leading candidate to stage soccer's biggest event for the first time since 1966.

Treasury chief Gordon Brown, who is the leading candidate to succeed Tony Blair as Prime Minister some time later this year, said he would support an England bid for a World Cup six years after London stages the Olympics.

``Everything is in place and we now have to go out and sell it and show that the enthusiasm of the young people is such that, if we win, this will be the greatest sporting decade for our country,'' Brown said Monday as he toured the rebuilt 90,000-capacity Wembley Stadium.

The government's feasibility study said England already has six venues that meet FIFA's requirement to stage World Cup games _ Wembley, Old Trafford, Emirates Stadium, St. James' Park, the City of Manchester Stadium and Villa Park.

Culture Secretary Tessa Jowell said that a study document suggested England was well placed to stage the event.

``If the Football Association decides to bid, the government will back them all the way,'' Jowell said.

FIFA, which has awarded the 2010 World Cup to Africa and 2014 to South America, has another three years to decide which confederation should get the 2018 tournament.

For the 2006 World Cup, England's bid was knocked out in the second round of voting against South Africa, Morocco and eventual winner Germany.