AEG president Leiweke voices England support
LONDON -- England's 2018 World Cup bid received the backing Thursday of the CEO of the company that owns the Los Angeles Galaxy, despite the United States being of the one main competitors to host the tournament.
Tim Leiweke, president and chief executive officer of Anschutz Entertainment Group, said England's case to put on soccer's showpiece event for the first time since 1966 was clearly the best.
"I can't imagine a more passionate host," Leiweke said at the Leaders in Football conference. "England is a place where people care about football more than anywhere in the world. I've never seen passion for any sport like the passion you have for football here.
"FIFA should take a long, hard look at bringing the World Cup to England. Over the years, England have worked hard at their football infrastructure, they have fantastic stadia and deserve to get the World Cup."
After FIFA vice president Jack Warner dismissed England's bid as "lightweight" Wednesday for not using star players, a host of foreign Premier League players were presented as bid ambassadors at the Leaders in Football conference.
They include Manchester City captain Kolo Toure and Chelsea forward Salomon Kalou, who play for the Ivory Coast, along with Trinidad and Tobago striker Kenwyne Jones and West Ham manager Gianfranco Zola.
Football Association chairman David Triesman said they will help to highlight the diversity of the Premier League, arguing that some other countries haven't properly dealt with racial issues.
England's black players have been racially abused in recent years in Spain, which is bidding for the event jointly with Portugal.
"The players are able to point out, because we faced our demons in the past, that you can play your football here without racial abuse," Triesman said. "And that is not true everywhere. You can also do it knowing that when we see any signs of a re-emergence, we'll stamp on it."