England may bid to host 2018 World Cup

England bid to host the 2006 World Cup although, obviously, Germany ended up winning that bid. But England may try again and bid for the 2018 World Cup. South Africa will host the 2010 World Cup and I think Brazil will be hosting it in 2014. The winning bid for the 2018 World Cup will be announced in 2012, the year that London hosts the Olympics.

2018: what are your ambassadorial skills like, David?

Paul Wilson
Sunday July 23, 2006
The Observer

How many Scotsmen would like to see England win a football World Cup? Surprisingly, the answer is one. His name is Gordon Brown and his address could be 10 Downing Street in the not too distant future.

The World Cup in question is the one England are expected to bid to host in 2018, the next feasible opportunity, with 2010 lined up for South Africa and 2014 bound for Brazil. 'Winning' a World Cup in that sense - come on, you didn't imagine we were talking about lifting the trophy, did you? - would be as big a coup for the country as 'winning' the 2012 Olympics. The latter triumph was seen as a major achievement of Tony Blair and his pal/rival Brown is apparently keen to be just as closely associated with a successful bid for the World Cup.

The reason 2018 was being talked about last week - by, among others, sports minister Richard Caborn - is because Brown set things in motion by commissioning a preliminary feasibility study to clear the way for a bid, the results of which are due any day. As even the most gloomy predictions concede that the new Wembley should be open by then, there is no reason why an English bid should not be successful. We have the stadiums, the fans and the infrastructure and it has got to be our turn. Every major European nation has hosted a World Cup since 1966 and Germany has hosted two. We made rather a mess of our application to stage the 2006 World Cup, losing out to the Germans because we conveniently forgot a pact made when the European Championship came here in 1996, but even allowing for misunderstandings, reneging on gentlemen's agreements and the byzantine workings of Fifa committees, a waiting period of more than half a century between World Cups is surely long enough.

Or is it? For several reasons 2018 in England might not be the shoo-in everyone imagines. If, after two successive tournaments in the southern hemisphere, Fifa decide it is about time Europe got a look-in again, England would be in prime position. But Fifa's commitment to a rota principle is only a loose one; there is nothing in writing. It will not necessarily be Europe's turn in 2018. Furthermore, Fifa have found the new system of indicating in advance which continent is likely to receive the tournament rather sensible and boring. People like the uncertainty and excitement of a bidding process, not least the bidding countries themselves. It might seem a frightful waste of time and effort to outsiders, but even unsuccessful bids normally generate material benefits for the country involved.

Two particularly energetic bidders for major sporting events, Australia and China, are known to be interested in pitching for the 2018 World Cup. They will obviously be excluded if Fifa say the competition will take place in Europe, but Fifa have so far said no such thing. A two-way bidding situation between Europe and Asia is possible, with the losers being encouraged to bid for 2022 and England could easily find themselves in a head-to-head with Australia.

Australia's success at hosting the 2000 Olympics is still fresh in the memory, whereas England will be hosting the 2012 Games in the year when Fifa make their final decision about the 2018 World Cup. A brilliant Olympics would not win the World Cup for England because the decision would have been made by the time of the summer Games, but any delays, disputes or organisational difficulties in the months leading up to the Olympics could have a negative effect on a World Cup campaign. The timescale for these things is now almost a decade. Franz Beckenbauer spent nine years working on the Germany World Cup - three years on the bid, then six years between getting the nod and the tournament taking place.

Beckenbauer is a relatively young-looking 60-year-old, but for a tournament still 12 years in the distance England would have to find a younger face of football. Any bid needs a personality to drive it. The boys of 66 are old men and young people even in England cannot be relied upon to recognise Bobby Charlton or Alan Ball. We have no more recent World Cup winners to call upon and, judging by the performances in Germany, we cannot rely on winning the trophy in the near future, so we need a new ambassador of English football. Ideally he should be instantly recognisable, be coming to the end of his career or have recently finished playing, be comfortable in front of television cameras and capable of being passionate and emotional on England's behalf.

So who should it be? David Beckham, Paul Gascoigne or Gary Neville? Answers on a postcard to 11 Downing Street.

who else is bidding besides england?