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Oct 7, 2009

England 2018 bid floundering

FIFA vice president Jack Warner has slammed England's 2018 World Cup bid for failing to wow anyone yet, and insisted the country has no divine right to host the tournament.

Warner hit out against the campaign, saying there was "something wrong'' with the bid and England had not yet given the judges "the raison d'etre'' to support it.

England has everything needed for a successful bid, but the judges want to see "something innovative, something creative'' rather than the "same old, same old'' bids, he said.

Warner caused a stir in 2007when he commented in that "nobody in Europe likes England. England invented the sport but has never made any impact on world football."

In an interview with Sky News, Warner said: "If I were an Englishman today, I would not be happy at the progress that has been made to date. I don't think they have progressed as far as I would have liked.

"You name it, England have it. But yet they haven't been able to wow the guys who have to vote for them, then there is something wrong.

"England, in the eyes of my colleagues and me, does not have a divine right to host the World Cup.''

He admitted England had the best Premier League in the world, the best football tradition in the world, the best football stadia in the world, and star players. But Warner believes the bid is far from reaching its full potential.

"If I had all these things, I am telling you, any country that wanted a World Cup bid would be far, far behind me," he said. "I don't know why this is not so in England.''

He said FA chairman Lord Triesman, who is leading the bid, needed to step up and "be more visible''. Warner added he will meet both Lord Triesman and Premier League chairman Sir David Richards within the next 24 hours and plans to tell them their shortcomings "in broad terms and in an open and candid way''.

Triesman has played down Warner's criticism, insisting that England's bid will become more high-profile as the campaign wears on.

"His initial advice was not to do what we did in 2006, going round getting in people's faces and making assumptions. He said we should go around and listen to people and get to know the 24 members of the FIFA executive committee," Triesman said. "It was always going to be a campaign where we would move onto a higher profile. He's making a point that we need to get to that point."

Triesman also responded to Warner's comments over sending "lightweight" representatives to meet Fifa executives. "I don't think that is an accurate description," he said. "It was said to me that when South Africa bid there was Nelson Mandela around. There aren't too many Nelson Mandelas - people who have that international reputation who are thought of in a moral sense as well as political."

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