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Nov 12, 2010

Dein meets Blatter to revive England 2018 bid

David Dein has met FIFA president Sepp Blatter to revive England 2018's struggling World Cup bid campaign as the bidding nations announced a who's who of political leaders to attend the highly-anticipated host announcement on December 2.

With England's hopes of hosting the 2018 tournament in danger of being undermined by the English media's investigations into FIFA corruption, England 2018 international president Dein has travelled to Zurich to meet Blatter and FIFA general secretary Jerome Valcke to ensure England's bid will be judge on merit.

Despite the negative context surrounding Dein's visit to FIFA headquarters, to have Blatter's ear just three weeks from the FIFA executive committee's vote is a timely boost for England's hopes of hosting the tournament.

The meeting gave Dein the opportunity to try to limit any further damage to the bid from BBC Panorama's investigation after bid leaders admitted a recent Sunday Times sting had caused significant harm to their chances. England 2018 need to pull out all the stops because at the moment they look to be behind both Spain/Portugal and Russia - though ahead of Holland/Belgium - in the race for 2018.

There has been a boost for England after it was confirmed that Prince William and prime minister David Cameron will be part of their delegation for next month's vote, according to a confidential FIFA list. England also hope David Beckham will attend the Zurich vote.

The list so far includes four prime ministers, Prince William, two heads of state, plus former US president Bill Clinton and the Emir of Qatar, Sheikh Hamad bin Kahlifa Al-Thani.

England's 2018 rivals Russia have deputy prime minister Igor Shuvalov named, although it is understood FIFA have also been told that their prime minister Vladimir Putin will be attending. Holland/Belgium also have political heavyweights in their delegation with Dutch prime minister Mark Rutte and his Belgian counterpart Ives Leterme both included. The fourth 2018 bidder Spain/Portugal - in some eyes the new favourites - have so far only named their countries' sports ministers in their delegation.

Australia's prime minister Julia Gillard will go to support their 2022 bid, while Clinton is backing the United States, and Qatar have the Emir plus other members of their royal family. The list of dignitaries is completed by Korea's president Lee Myun Bak and former Japanese prime minister Yukio Hatoyama. Cameron is in Korea for the Group 20 summit and has held talks there with their FIFA vice-president Chung Mong-Joon, whose vote could be one of the keys to England's hopes.

FIFA have also told all bidding committees that their bid evaluation reports are due to be sent out by Friday and will be published on Wednesday - the same day that FIFA's ethics committee are due to deliver their verdict into the Sunday Times allegations.

The ethics committee will rule on two executive committee members, Nigeria's Amos Adamu and Tahiti's Reynald Temarii, who have been suspended following allegations they asked for cash for projects in exchange for their votes. They deny any wrongdoing. The committee will also issue a judgement on allegations that Spain/Portugal and Qatar have colluded with each other in contravention of FIFA's bidding rules.

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