LONDON - Top footballers would enjoy
playing in a World Cup in England more than anywhere else
because of the modern stadiums, the climate and the crowds,
former England international Gary Lineker said on Friday.
Those reasons outweigh all the political ones added Lineker,
an ambassador for the England bid committee hoping to stage the
2018 World Cup in the country for the first time since 1966.
He has a friendship with UEFA president Michel Platini, one
of the 22 men on the FIFA executive committee who will decide
next Thursday on the destinations of the 2018 and 2022 finals,
and said he would use his influence to persuade as many men as
possible to vote for England.
"I will go along the lines of: what would be the best thing
for football?" Lineker told reporters on Thursday.
"If you ask the players where they wanted to play the World
Cup in 2018, they would want to play it in this country. A lot
of World Cups suffer because of the conditions - we would have
"Our weather is not great but it is for football. We don't
have to deal with heat and altitude. We have perfect playing
conditions, great pitches and great stadiums which players love
to play in.
"Why do you think so many of the world's top players come
here to play ? It's not just because of the financial aspect,
it's also because they get such a buzz playing here.
"So despite the legacy, and the huge profits a World Cup can
generate for FIFA, for football, this would be the place to have
a great World Cup and have a great show."
Lineker said he would speak to Platini, who like Lineker was
at his peak as a player in the 1980s, and urge him to vote for
"I hope to see him in Zurich. I know him very well, I speak
to him on the phone," said the former striker turned TV
"The last time I played golf with him he lost his temper and
smashed a three iron against a tree - it was a surreal sight,"
he laughed before adding, "but I'd give him a shot if he gave us
a vote for the World Cup."
England manager Fabio Capello, who, like Lineker, is backing
the bid, said at a media briefing that he would also use his
relationships with key FIFA members to try and influence their
"I know a lot of people," said Capello, "I started to play
professionally when I was 18 and now I am 64. I know a lot of
people and I look forward to meeting them."
Capello said it was also important that FIFA did not forget
the traditional powerbases of world football and it was time they
awarded the finals to England.
"Sometimes it's about promoting new countries but I also
think you have to remember the history of countries," said the
"The World Cup in South Africa was really important to start
important things in South Africa, not just football events.
"But also you have to remember something about history -
Italy is important having won the World Cup four times. But
England is the home of football and for this reason you have to
England's bid has been on something of a roller-coaster ride
for the last 18 months and has recently been buffeted by
newspaper allegations of corruption by FIFA executive members.
However, Capello believes it has a fighting chance against
its rivals Russia and joint bidders Spain/Portugal and
"It's the best country to host the World Cup - simple. The
stadiums are fantastic, the passion of the fans is unlike
anywhere else. This is the country where football was born and
is absolutely the best country to host it."
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