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Wednesday, March 11, 1998 Published at 12:03 GMT



Sport: Football

Blair pushing for 2006 World Cup
image: [ If England hosted the 2006 World Cup, it would come 40 years after the country's only tournament win ]
If England hosted the 2006 World Cup, it would come 40 years after the country's only tournament win

The Prime Minister is adding his weight to a campaign for England to host the 2006 World Cup.


[ image: Tony Blair will tell Dr Havelange that Euro 96 was a huge success]
Tony Blair will tell Dr Havelange that Euro 96 was a huge success
Tony Blair's meeting on Wednesday with the President of the Federation Internationale de Football Association (FIFA), Joao Havelange, comes as ministers grow increasingly confident that the English bid could be on the brink of success.

As well as seeing off the German bid to host the tournament, they believe England could be set to beat South Africa, the other main challenger.

Sports Minister Tony Banks and Sir Bobby Charlton, a member of the 1966 England World Cup winning team, are being hailed for their efforts across the world to persuade other FIFA members of the virtues of the English bid.


[ image: England's grounds are now among the world's best, the Prime Minister will say]
England's grounds are now among the world's best, the Prime Minister will say
Dr Havelange will be accompanied by FIFA General Secretary Sepp Blatter at Wednesday's meeting with Mr Blair.

The Prime Minister said: "I believe that our country has the vision, the enthusiasm and the commitment to host an excellent World Cup in 2006.

"I will do everything I can to support this bid. It will be a great achievement and I hope and believe we can secure victory."


[ image: Tony Blair:
Tony Blair: "Our country has the vision, enthusiasm and commitment to host an excellent World Cup"
An official spokesman for Mr Blair pointed to recent comments by Dr Havelange in which he said England had "a big chance" of hosting the tournament which would come exactly 40 years after the country's only World Cup final win.

Dr Havelange was also quoted recently as saying: "England has all the facilities needed for a World Cup - airports, hotels, broadcasting facilities and good roads and railways."

That comment is seen as particularly significant in the light of a South African challenge to host the tournament.


[ image: Ministers believe England can see off both Germany and South Africa]
Ministers believe England can see off both Germany and South Africa
Though a strong bid from South Africa would be likely to win broad support, ministers believe that it may lack the infrastructure to host such a major tournament, leaving England with a relatively free run even though Brazil has been mentioned as a potential host.

The Prime Minister will give Dr Havelange six reasons why England deserves to host the World Cup. Tony Blair will say:

  • England is the home of football, the birth-place of the game and the country that other nations' fans most want to visit. English football is also a thriving, successful business.

  • Euro 96, hosted by England, was an outstanding success, trouble-free, well organised and generated a great atmosphere.

  • England's grounds are now the finest in the world with about £600m spent in recent years to create a set of venues worthy of the World Cup. Stadia such as Old Trafford, Anfield and Villa Park are footballing shrines for visiting fans.

  • Wembley, "the venue of legends", is about to be rebuilt at a cost of £200m and will become the finest modern stadium in the world.

  • The World Cup in England would take place on grounds that would create a unique atmosphere with no fences, and crowds able to sit close to the pitch.

  • England is a great place to visit and high on the list of international tourist destinations. London is one of the most popular cities in the world.








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