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Last Updated: Monday, 12 February 2007, 20:49 GMT
Ministers back World Cup 2018 bid
England fans
Thousands of England fans made the trip to Germany in 2006
An English bid to host the 2018 football World Cup would be backed by the government, ministers have pledged.

An official study into the project has concluded that England is well-placed to stage the competition.

Chancellor Gordon Brown said the tournament should return to "the nation which gave football to the world".

The final decision on tabling a bid lies with the Football Association, which spent millions on an unsuccessful attempt to host the 2006 competition.

FA chief executive Brian Barwick said in a statement: "Government backing is a central part of any successful World Cup bid and this study underlines this government's commitment to bringing the world's biggest sports events to these shores."

Mr Brown said: "By 2018, it will be more than 50 years since England first hosted the World Cup.

"With the Olympics in London in 2012, hosting the World Cup in 2018 would make the next decade the greatest in Britain's sporting history."

The chancellor and Culture Secretary Tessa Jowell visited the new Wembley Stadium to launch the report of the government's feasibility study.

Ms Jowell told BBC Radio Five Live: "The FA will, in due course, make their decision.

"What Gordon Brown and I are showing today is that a World Cup bid would have unqualified government support."

Unqualified

The country has been weighing up a possible bid since late 2005.

England would be among early favourites to clinch the 2018 tournament, having not hosted the World Cup since 1966.

It would also be the natural turn of a European nation after South Africa in 2010 and, it is thought likely, a South American location in 2014.

The Euro 96 tourney was superb - so imagine that on a bigger scale.

The government's study considered England's stadiums - only six of which are big enough at present - and other infrastructure, as well as the legacy and economic benefits hosting the cup would bring.

Researchers also canvassed public opinion, concluding that there would be widespread enthusiasm across Britain.

But shadow sports minister Hugh Robertson accused the government of "a very silly publicity stunt".

"Gordon Brown would be much better off sorting out the mess he has made of the Olympics budget, or actually delivering on the other pledges he has already made about sport but not kept," he added.

Misjudged

BBC sports news correspondent Gordon Farquhar said that during its last bid the FA misjudged the internal politics of Fifa, world football's governing body.

Before it bid again, the association would want to ensure it had support at the highest level of the game, our correspondent said.

Among the luminaries who support an English bid is German football legend Franz Beckenbauer, the brains behind Germany's bid for the 2006 tournament.

And Ms Jowell insisted an English bid would be something people in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland would get behind too.

"If any country in the UK were to host a global sporting event on this kind of scale, it becomes something that the whole of the UK becomes enthused by."

Any FA bid would have to be submitted in 2010 before a decision late the following year.


SEE ALSO
Beckenbauer will back England bid
28 Jan 07 |  Internationals
World Cup own goal for chancellor
19 Jan 07 |  Scotland
Caborn backs 2018 World Cup bid
19 Jul 06 |  Football

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