Beckham bullish as vote nears
David Beckham declared that England's bid team is "not worried" by any of its rivals on the eve of the FIFA vote to decide the hosts of the 2018 and 2022 World Cups.
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Beckham, along with Prince William and David Cameron, has been dispatched to Zurich to help win last-minute support for England's bid, which has been dogged by a negative reaction to allegations in the British media regarding corruption in FIFA's halls of power.
It appears that England, Russia and Spain/Portugal are locked in a three-way battle to be declared 2018 hosts on Thursday, with Netherlands/Belgium an outsider. Meanwhile, Qatar, United States, Australia, Japan and South Korea are bidding for the 2022 tournament.
Beckham, Cameron and Prince William - dubbed the "three lions" by bid chief executive Andy Anson - have been meeting FIFA delegates in an effort to push England's claims and though Russia are favourites at present, Beckham is confident that the executive committee will see past recent controversies and place their support behind his bid team.
Beckham told a press conference: "We have to be worried by all the bidders. Actually, no we are not worried. We know that we've got a great bid. We are confident of what we have done. We are not worried about anyone else.
"We are confident because we feel we have got a great argument, a great bid. Doing the presentation yesterday for the first time I realised how strong and how special our bid really is.
"I think we can trust every one of the members. At the end of the day they are football people. They are going to want a World Cup in the best country that they think could host the biggest sporting event in the world. Without a doubt we can trust them."
Key to England's hopes of winning the ballot could be the three CONCACAF votes controlled by Jack Warner. The president of the federation was accused in Monday night's Panorama programme of attempting to indulge in the sale of black market tickets and has been very critical of the behaviour of the British media.
However, Warner spoke warmly of England's international development work after meeting Prime Minister David Cameron on Tuesday and Beckham, who himself has made attempts to court Warner, hopes to win the support of the influential figure.
"I think Jack is one of those men that believes wherever the World Cup will be, it will be special," Beckham said. "He loves the Premier League, he loves our country and loves everything about our game. Every vote is important to us, but I spent time with Jack over in Trinidad and Tobago and it was good, but what is important now is that we get the votes of everybody.
"I have met a few members. I would rather keep who I have actually met private, but I met a few of the members last night [Tuesday]. I was working with the Prime Minister and Prince William until late last night. I know this morning Prince William was up at 7 or 7.30 having breakfast with one of the members.
"Everything has been positive so far. We have obviously listened to the feedback and the ideas we feel we need to be pushing in the next few days and we are working on it."
It has been confirmed that Prince William met with Paraguayan exco member Nicolas Leoz on Wednesday morning. He was one of the figures accused in the Panorama programme on Monday night. The Prince also met with Rafael Salguero from Guatemala, Qatar's Mohamed bin Hammam and USA's Chuck Blazer on Tuesday night.
BBC's Panorama programme has caused some resentment after accusing three FIFA exco members - Issa Hayatou, Ricardo Teixeira and Leoz - of taking bribes, while a Sunday Times investigation has already seen two others - Amos Adamu and Reynald Temarii - removed from the voting process.
However, Beckham has been attempting to convince delegates that the media will be fully supportive of the World Cup in 2018, should England win the right to host it.
"If and when we do get the World Cup in our country, there is no media like our media to get behind a big sporting event. Without a doubt, if we get this World Cup, the media will get right behind it."