Clegg talks of England's 'unbeatable' World Cup bid
Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg has told Fifa inspectors England’s bid for the 2018 World Cup is “unbeatable”.
The Fifa delegation, which will write a report on England’s bid to host the World Cup, began its four-day visit with a reception at Downing Street.
Clegg said: “I believe this is an exceptionally strong, unbeatable bid. We in this government believe in it, we hope that you will believe in it.”
The hosts for the 2018 and 2022 World Cups will be revealed on 2 December. England face stiff competition in the battle to stage football’s premier tournament in eight years’ time, with Russia considered to be among the strongest rivals.
Fifa president Sepp Blatter is not part of the visiting bid delegation and although he admitted from Singapore that England would represent the “easiest” option, he also said Russia would be a powerful contender.
Blatter said: “The easiest way to organise the World Cup is to go to England. Everything is there – fans, stadiums, infrastructure.”
But he added: “You cannot deny Russia if they bid for something. They are more than a country. They are a big continent, a big power.”
The six-man Fifa team, led by the president of the Chilean football federation Harold Mayne-Nicholls, travelled from Downing Street to Wembley Stadium by tube where they inspected the facilities and met England manager Fabio Capello on the pitch.
On Tuesday morning, the inspectors are due to have several presentations followed by a boat journey along the River Thames.
The party will fly over a number of proposed 2018 venues including the new Olympic Stadium, Arsenal’s Emirates Stadium, White Hart Lane, Stadium:MK in Milton Keynes, Nottingham Forest’s City Ground and Elland Road in Leeds.
They are due to arrive in the north east for more presentations in the afternoon before visits to Sunderland and Newcastle.
On Wednesday, the focus moves to Manchester where Old Trafford and the City of Manchester Stadium will be in the spotlight. The visit concludes on Thursday.
Clegg, who was joined by Culture Secretary Jeremy Hunt and Sports Minister Hugh Robertson when he greeted the delegation at Number 10, believes Fifa will be won over by the size of the support for the English bid.
“The excitement and passion behind this bid is huge,” said Clegg. “It will inspire people in towns and cities across the country.
“There are few nations that can claim the passion we in England have for football. Our job is to show you we already have the infrastructure and facilities to host a World Cup.”
From BBC Sport