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Last Updated: Sunday, 23 May, 2004, 16:57 GMT 17:57 UK
Fifa gives England hope
The World Cup trophy
Fifa vice-president David Will has given his support to a potential World Cup bid from England to host the tournament in 2018.

Talks have taken place between the Football Association, the Government and UK Sport about staging the event.

"I would think England would have a very strong bid," said Will.

"The English bid for 2006 was much stronger than appeared from the pattern of voting but so much has changed since then anyway."

England missed out on the 2006 finals - which will take place in Germany - when its bid was embarrassingly eliminated in the first round after winning only two votes.

But Will insisted that poor peformance should not deter England from entering the 2018 race.

"Since they bid for 2006 the FA have started an enormous international assistance programme," said Will.

"They suddenly realised after the 2006 bid that the FA had become a little bit unknown in some parts of the world and have started this huge programme - that's bound to help.

"Many other things have been developed too that would make a bid much stronger next time."

Sports Minister Richard Caborn said a final decision will be made once the outcome of London's bid for the 2012 Olympics is known.

Europe is likely to stage the World Cup in 2018 under Fifa's rotational system, with South Africa the venue in 2010 and South America the 2014 destination.

"We have had discussions this week about whether we should throw our hat into the ring and talked very seriously about it," said Caborn.

"There are tactical points to consider. We don't want to dilute the potency of our bid for 2012.

"The outcome of that could have a bearing so we want to wait for the 2012 bid to be resolved before we progress any further."

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