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Sunday, 18 June, 2000, 23:23 GMT 00:23 UK
Is England's 2006 World Cup bid over?
Hooligans
Hooligans could end 2006 World Cup bid
BBC Sport Online's football editor, Howard Nurse, fears England's bid to stage the 2006 World Cup finals is doomed.

England have to ask themselves how serious their bid can be given the repeated trouble we have seen from so-called 'supporters' over the past 20 years or so.

Uefa have diplomatically stated that the latest violence during Euro 2000 will not affect England's bid to host the 2006 World Cup finals.

But we have to ask ourselves how much truth there is in that statement.

The 24 executive committee members of Fifa, football's world governing body will decide in Zurich on 6 July who should win the right to stage the 2006 finals.

England's rivals, Germany, South Africa, Brazil and Morocco, could well benefit from the latest shameful scenes we have witnessed.

Outsiders

It is fair to say that England appear outsiders to win the vote behind South Africa and Germany in any case.

Sadly, some might even use the argument that England hosted Euro 96 without any violence and it would be better for them to stage the 2006 World Cup to prevent the thugs from travelling abroad.

That is hardly a logical solution to the problem however and South Africa and Germany will feel their bid prospects have improved following the violence in Belgium.


Rampaging fans
Rampaging fans hurt English reputations

Indeed, South Africa, the favourites, will believe they are now firmly in the driving seat. Fifa may feel taking the tournament away from Europe all together would be the safest outcome.

Having said that, South Africa is not without its problems as far as law and order is concerned.

But staging the 2006 finals so far away from England would hopefully deter the casual troublemakers from attending at least.

Not surprisingly, Uefa president Lennart Johansson described the English hooligans as "a disgrace" and said the British government had not done enough to prevent them from travelling to the tournament.

Chief executive Gerhard Aigner feels the actions of the English hooligans had left a "scar" on the tournament.

Prime Minister Tony Blair, speaking in Portugal where he is attending an EU summit, said: "Hopefully this threat will bring to their senses anyone tempted to continue the mindless thuggery that has brought such shame to the country."

It is an immense task trying to prevent people from travelling the relatively short distance to Belgium and Holland and the authorities will insist they have done everything in their powers to try to prevent hooligans reaching Euro 2000.

The vast majority of England fans are of course well behaved and once again it looks likely that the mindless minority will spoil the party for everybody else.

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See also:

18 Jun 00 | Euro2000
Uefa issue ban threat to England
17 Jun 00 | Euro2000
England beat Germany - at last
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