England to fight Russia, Oz for 2018 World Cup?
England and Russia may be going head to head on Wednesday on the football pitch but the two countries are also set to be the main European protagonists in bidding for the 2018 World Cup. Sepp Blatter's confirmation he wants an end to rotation of the finals between different continents follows months of hints from the FIFA president that he is in favour of opening up bidding for the tournament. Richard Caborn, Prime Minister Gordon Brown's World Cup Ambassador for 2018, welcomed Blatter's comments, which appear to end any chance of the finals being automatically handed to a country from the CONCACAF federation from north and central America and the Caribbean. England and Russia are now both certain to bid, and they are likely to face opposition from China, Australia and a joint Benelux bid from Holland, Belgium and Luxembourg. A decision is now expected to be taken by FIFA's executive committee later this month, ending the current rotation system that secured the 2010 finals for Africa - South Africa won the bid - and 2014 for South America, where Brazil were the only bidders. Blatter told BBC's Football Focus: 'I am advocating we open the market - it will give a better competition. 'We are not in a very comfortable situation in South America. We only have one bidder and, if we maintain this rotation system as we have now, that could be the case again. 'It would be better to have three or four associations trying to get the number one competition of the world.' Blatter's view will come as a blow to the CONCACAF federation but was welcome news for England and Russia, who have both been successful in bidding for the Olympics, with London winning the 2012 summer Games and Sochi the winter Games in 2014. Caborn said: 'It's good to hear Sepp Blatter is supporting the case for a more open competition for the World Cup in 2018. 'Staging the World Cup is an enormous prize and tremendous privilege, which is why it deserves a proper open competition. 'Obviously, we must wait for a final decision on rotation from FIFA but in the meantime I will continue to talk to the FA about a possible England bid.'