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Beckenbauer Backs England to Host 2018 World Cup
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FIFA member Franz Beckenbauer believes the 2018 World Cup should be held in Europe and that England is the best candidate to host the finals.

Beckenbauer, a member of FIFA's 24-strong executive committee, which decides the World Cup hosts, said the quality of England's league and stadia made the country the favourites.

"2010 is South Africa, then because of the FIFA rotation in 2014 it will be South America, probably Brazil, and then it's the end of the rotation," Beckenbauer told BBC Five Live radio on Sunday.

"It has to come back to Europe and then England, of course, is the first choice to host the World Cup in 2018."

Beckenbauer, a World Cup winner as a player and manager who headed the organising committee of last year's finals in his native Germany, said: "There is no better country in Europe to host it in 2018.

"The Premier League at the moment is the best league in Europe, the stadiums are outstanding and the new Wembley Stadium, and the club stadiums, are in the best condition ever.

"So it's logical to bring the 2018 World Cup to England."

Beckenbauer added: "England is the favourite...Germany is out because we hosted the 2006 World Cup, Italy is not in a very stable condition, France was in 1998 and Spain I don't know."

England won the 1966 World Cup as hosts and the government, led by new Prime Minister Gordon Brown, has firmly backed an English bid.

However, England's Football Association still have a very long way to go.

The future of FIFA's continental rotation policy is up for discussion by the game's ruling body, which will announce the 2014 hosts in October, while its president Sepp Blatter has said the 2018 tournament could go to North America.

The United States, Australia and China have all expressed interest in hosting the event in 11 years' time, while in Europe the three Benelux countries -- Belgium, the Netherlands and Luxembourg -- have already announced a combined bid.

The final decision is due to be taken in 2012, shortly after London hosts the Olympic Games.

(China Daily via Reuters July 30, 2007)

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