Blatter keen for England 2018 bid

Sepp Blatter would welcome a bid to stage the 2018 World Cup finals "from the motherland of football".

But the Fifa president has warned that England would face stiff competition in the battle to host the tournament for the first time since 1966.

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Blatter, who was in England for the 150th anniversary of Sheffield FC, the world's oldest football club, said: "England is the motherland of football and I would welcome the candidate of the FA - the last time we had the World Cup there was 1966 and by 2018 that will be practically three generations.

"But England will not be the only candidates - we have already had talks with China's football and political authorities and they are keen, Australia are always in the running and there are others - USA, Mexico and perhaps Canada.

"In Europe there is Russia and I will have talks with Holland and Belgium next month to discuss about whether a combined candidature is valid or not."

Blatter is hoping Fifa's current policy of rotating the tournament between the different continents will be scrapped at next week's meeting of the executive committee in Zurich.

Following his meeting with Prime Minister Gordon Brown at Downing Street, Blatter told reporters: "I told Gordon Brown I would welcome a candidature but first we have to establish the procedure of the 2018 World Cup.

"My thoughts are that we shall open the market and make the World Cup available for everybody apart from the last confederation which has just organised it, which means South America cannot bid for 2018."

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