England coach Fabio Capello says soccer’s governing body shouldn’t forget the sport’s history when it comes to deciding who will host the World Cup.
FIFA’s Executive Committee will decide next week where the 2018 and 2022 tournaments are staged, and the Italian will be in Zurich to lobby the 22 voters on behalf of his employer. England is competing with Russia and joint bids from Spain/Portugal and Netherlands/Belgium for the 2018 event.
England, which formalized the laws of the game almost 150 years ago, won its only World Cup in 1966, the first and last time it hosted the event. South Africa became the first African host of the quadrennial tournament earlier this year.
“Sometimes it’s about promoting new countries, but I also think you have to remember the history of countries,” Capello told reporters in London. “England is the home of football and for this reason you have to sometimes consider this. It’s the best country to host the World Cup - simple.”
England’s entourage in Zurich includes the recently engaged second-in-line to the throne Prince William, U.K. Prime Minister David Cameron and soccer star David Beckham. Capello believes his reputation in the game may also be useful when it comes to convincing FIFA’s committee members who to choose in Dec. 2’s secret ballot.
The former Italian national team member began his career in the sport five decades ago. He’s played and coached in the World Cup and won European and domestic trophies as a manager with teams including AC Milan and Real Madrid.
“I know a lot of people because I started to play professionally when I was 18 and now I am 64,” Capello said. “Now I know a lot of people. I look forward to meeting them.”
England’s bid is second-favorite at 13-8 with bookmaker William Hill Plc behind Russia at 4-5 and Spain is 7-2. The Netherlands/Belgium bid is the 50-1. That means a successful $8 bet on England would bring in $13 plus the original stake.
Gary Lineker, England’s No. 2 all-time record goal scorer and broadcaster, will also be making the trip to Switzerland to promote his nation’s cause. Like Capello he’s banking on his relationships established over decades in the sport.
He said he’ll seek out Michel Platini, the head of European soccer. The two know each other well and play golf together.
“I’ll give him an extra shot if he votes for us,” joked Lineker, scorer of 48 goals for the national team, which puts him just behind 1966 World Cup winner Bobby Charlton. “He plays his cards very close to his chest so I don’t know what he’s going to do.”
England’s notoriously bad summer weather may help its chances of hosting the tournament, he added. Lineker said the weather at some of the previous competitions was too hot and not conducive to attacking play. Several matches in South Africa, the last host, were played at altitude.
“It might not be great for going to the beach but it’s great for playing football,” he said.
Spain/Portugal bid head Miguel Angel Lopez said the group has about eight votes. Lineker said it’s impossible to guess which way the voters will go.
“You want to know, I want to know what they’re thinking,” he said. “But we won’t know until next Thursday.”
The Spain/Portugal and England bids were deemed to have the lowest risk according to a report published by FIFA technical inspectors. England’s $722.9 million budget for the World Cup and a warm up event a year earlier is the highest of all four bids. It’s proposing to spend $2.5 billion on stadiums as well.
FIFA will also decide where the 2022 event is staged on Dec. 2. The U.S., Australia, Qatar, Japan and Korea are competing for that event. The next World Cup takes place in Brazil in 2014.
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