England’s bid to host the 2018 World Cup has been given lift following a diplomatic mission to Zurich by Prime minister David Cameron, Prince William and David Beckham.
Dubbed the “Three Lions”, the England bid ambassadors met with top Fifa officials, including Sepp Blatter and Jack Warner, to discuss the merits of their bid ahead of the deciding vote tomorrow. They were also attempting to head off any damaging fall-out from the Panorama broadcast on Monday night that accused three of the men who will decide their fate of receiving bribes.
However it is believed that the England bid has secured six votes, which would be sufficient to take it through the first elimination round.
England would then hope to pick up votes from the Belgium and Holland bid to take the bid across the finishing line.
David Beckham said: “He [Blatter] brought it up within the talks and obviously it was not the easiest of things to talk about. He realised that a lot of it was old stuff and a lot of it was said. A lot of things go on and it is out of our hands.”
England are going head to head with bids from Russia and a joint bid from Spain and Portugal. Cameron will press his case with each of the 22 members of the Fifa executive committee over the next day.
(England 2018 Vice-President, David Beckham, surprised local youngsters with a special visit to ‘Sekundarschule Liguster’ in Zurich)
Russian prime minister Vladimir has been hailed throughout the campaign as the bid’s trump card, but has been notably by his absence in Zurich ahead of the vote.
His spokesman cited a diary clash with a commitment to discuss public health issues in Kaliningrad on Thursday, the day of the decisive vote.
The development appeared to rouse suspicion that the Russian bid is uncertain of the strength of its core vote.
Putin may yet travel to Zurich, but if he does not it will send a strong signal that he lacks confidence in Russia’s chances.
When Sochi bid successfully for the 2014 Winter Olympics Putin’s presence was cited as a major factor in their success.
He could also risk mirroring the failure of French president Jacques Chirac, who arrived the night before the 2012 Olympic vote in belated support of Paris, but was punished with defeat.
Meanwhile Cameron, Beckham and Prince William are scheduled to attend the crucial vote tomorrow.
The mission is Prince William’s first since the announcement of his engagement to Kate Middleton and a Buckingham Palace aide described him as ‘raring to go’.
David Cameron pointedly deflected questions about the impact of the Panorama investigation yesterday, insisting: “I’ve only got one focus here and that’s trying to bring the World Cup home for England.”
He met with Fifa vice president Jack Warner, who was accused of ticket touting by the Panorama investigation.
Warner had originally promised to back England – but there were fears the Panorama affair could have changed his mind.
(Beckham fulfilled a long-standing personal commitment to FIFA Vice-President and CONCACAF President Jack Warner this year by bringing his Academy to the Marvin Lee Stadium in Trinidad to coach local young players and coaches)
Also in Zurich, World Mobi is launched its new city guide zurich.mobi, complete with all the latest from the World Cup bid.
World Mobi offers the most comprehensive mobile travel guides available, with over 800 cities in 200 countries listed. Each is developed by the World Mobi team to combine into a single global travel directory.
However, each city retains its own mobile identity via a dedicated domain. Other cities on offer include Brussels.Mobi, London.Mobi, Sanfrancisco.Mobi and Sydney.Mobi.
Zurich.Mobi is the latest in this illustrious line up, offering click to call functionality – which means no scribbling down telephone numbers.
Most entries are also linked to websites where users can quickly access more detailed information if needed.
Other key features include information on accommodation, restaurants, attractions, entertainment, nightlife, shopping, and transport.
World.Mobi guides include user reviews and traveller utilities such as a translation guide, currency converter, news and local weather guide.