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England, USA (or Mexico) or both?
June 2nd, 2008 6:45AM
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[WORLD CUP 2018 BID] Last week in London, where England hosted the United States in a friendly, the talk was of a U.S. bid for the 2018 World Cup. In Port of Spain, Trinidad, where England beat T&T, 3-0, on Sunday, the talk was of Concacaf's Trinidadian president, Jack Warner, and his view on the English bid in 2018. And at the FIFA Congress in Sydney, Australia, there was a twist to the 2018 campaign -- a proposal to award the 2018 and 2022 World Cups at the same time. A recap of the news on the 2018 bidding front ...

In London for the England-USA game, U.S. Soccer president Sunil Gulatiused the opportunity to advise the British press that U.S. Soccer will make a decision soon and could present a serious challenge to England's bid.

"I can't think of any reasons why we wouldn't bid for the tournament," Gulati was quoted in the Guardian. "We've done this before and been successful at doing it before. The bid process has become very competitive and whether playing a game in Trinidad has anything to do with that I am not sure. But I think the FA are more sophisticated than to think they are going to get Jack Warner's vote on the back of playing one game. There aren't any Concacaf bidders at this point, and Mr. Warner is the president of Concacaf."

At the center of the talk about the 2018 World Cup is the controversial Warner, the Concacaf president who dissed British soccer -- saying it "has never made any impact on world football" -- then said he'd back an English bid shortly before plans for the T&T-England friendly were announced.

But Warner, whose control of the large bloc of Concacaf votes makes him one of the most powerful men in soccer, was quoted in the Sunday Mirror as saying that his support for England was dependent upon the USA not bidding.

"If the FA have come here to help their bid for the 2018 World Cup," Warner said, "I welcome it. But I say today if the U.S. do make a bid, with regret I will support the U.S. If the U.S. do not make a bid, I am fully in England's corner."

Yet another report, in the Sunday Herald, suggested that Warner's choice might be ... Mexico.

No wonder, the Times of London, quoting a source, said the English FA had "shaken hands with the devil" in agreeing to play the Soca Warriors in Port of Spain.

But there was a twist to the story out of the FIFA Congress in Sydney, where FIFA president Sepp Blatter announced that the executive committee will decide the host countries for the 2018 and 2022 World Cups at the same time.

The shift in the bidding process raises the possibility that England and the USA (or Mexico) could be lucky winners when the executive committee decides before June 2011.

"Currently interested are Mexico, United States, England, Spain, Netherlands-Belgium, Russia, Qatar, China, Japan and Australia," Blatter said. "If we can offer two competitions for eight years to our partners and broadcasters and give extra time for planning, the economic result for FIFA will be better."

 



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