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Fifa's Jack Warner backs England's 2018 World Cup bid

Gordon Brown and Jack Warner
Warner's support is seen as vital to England's hopes of hosting the tournament

Fifa vice-president Jack Warner has said it "is England's time" to host the 2018 World Cup after meeting Prime Minister Gordon Brown in Trinidad.

Warner, who is head of the Concacaf union of North American and Caribbean football associations, had previously called England's bid "lightweight".

But he has backtracked, saying: "Brown felt England's time had come. I agreed.

"England has the best infrastructure to stage the tournament. After a 52-year gap this is England's time."

Warner's support is seen as crucial to England's hopes of winning the bid.

In his role as head of the Concacaf union, he will effectively control three of the 24 votes on Fifa's executive committee when it chooses the 2018 hosts in December next year.

The Trinidadian had previously warned England's bid team that they were falling behind rivals like Spain in the race to host the tournament.


He also returned a gift of a designer bag in fury.

However, in Friday's meeting Brown stressed England's passion for its national sport, and pointed out that it was half a century since the World Cup was last held in the country which invented football.

He said the government was completely committed to the bid and that he was personally ready to do "whatever is necessary" to support it.

Brown's comments appear to have swayed Warner who did not repeat his previous concerns about the leadership of the England bid, headed by FA chairman and Labour peer Lord Triesman.

Warner said: "It was an exceptionally good meeting - it was the best case I have heard for a long time about the World Cup being in England.

"I was very impressed by Brown's humility, his sincerity, his knowledge of the game, and most importantly he didn't feel England had any divine right (to host the tournament).

"He felt that England's time had come - a point to which I subscribed.

"Next week I will meet David Beckham in Cape Town. These are not for my ego, but they are the assets that the bid should be using and I am happy to see that they are being used."

England's bid has been rocked this week with Premier League chairman Sir Dave Richards resigning from the team while Karen Brady, who was one of six board members to stand down earlier this month, said there had been "bickering, infighting and disruption".

Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger
Wenger joins Pele as a supporter of England's bid

Brady, who joined the bid board in October, stood down - along with the likes of Manchester United chief executive David Gill - as part of a "streamlining" process.

Their departure coincided with the appointment of Richards.

But Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger believes England deserves to host the World Cup in 2018 and says he would become an ambassador for the bid if asked.

The Gunners' 60,000-seat Emirates Stadium is one of four London venues put forward to stage games.

"I'm a big supporter of the bid. If I can help I'd be happy," said the Frenchman.

"It is not normal that the country which created the sport has not had the World Cup since 1966. This country deserves the World Cup."

Wenger added: "I do not understand a lot of stories that the campaign is not run in a good way.

"I don't know how you can say it is run good or bad. If you have the infrastructure, the stadiums, the passion, the power to organise, I don't understand a lot of all the rest."

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see also
Cities make case for 2018 Cup bid
26 Nov 09 |  Internationals
Infighting harms 2018 bid - Brady
25 Nov 09 |  Internationals
Richards resigns from 2018 board
24 Nov 09 |  Internationals
England 2018 bid team streamlined
12 Nov 09 |  Football
England 'must improve 2018 bid'
07 Oct 09 |  Football
Argentines back England Cup bid
17 Sep 09 |  Football
Triesman calls for World Cup bid support
18 May 09 |  Internationals
Pele backs England World Cup bid
07 Nov 07 |  Football
England to bid for 2018 World Cup
31 Oct 07 |  Internationals

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