FIFA president Blatter admits England's strong 2018 chance

FIFA president Sepp Blatter believes the 1989 Hillsborough disaster and ensuing Taylor Report have led to England's strong 2018 World Cup bid.

Ninety-six Liverpool fans were crushed to death during the FA Cup semi-final between Liverpool and Nottingham Forest, a tragedy which prompted the commissioning of the report and the advent of all-seater stadia.

"If you look at the organisation of football in England, and also in Scotland, it has all come out of the disaster in Sheffield at Hillsborough in 1989," said the FIFA president.

"The decision was taken under the government that all team sports, not just football, will be played in all-seater stadiums and it was here that the success of the English Premier League started.

"It was a decision of the government and they had to renovate the stadiums or build new stadiums and now you don't need to touch them and they have another 10 or 11 years to go before the tournament."

England have emerged as the early favourites to host the 2018 World Cup, even though the bidding war is expected to feature a significant number of footballing and economic heavyweights. As a result, Blatter is expecting a tight tussle for the hosting rights.

"Don't forget they will have the same facilities in China, which we saw at the Women's World Cup," he said.

"And there is also Australia and Japan and other countries. There will be candidates from the United States, from Canada and from Mexico.

"England is a small place but they are strong and they do a lot of advertising and get a lot of publicity. We can see the Premier League on television anywhere. The race has not yet been officially opened but it will be a great race."

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