FIFA inspectors praise England 2018 bid

LONDON - FIFA concluded a four-day visit to inspect aspects of England's 2018 World Cup bid by praising the quality of stadiums and training facilities, as well as the country's passion for hosting the tournament.

"The quality of the pitches in all the stadiums we have been to was truly world class," FIFA's inspection team leader Harold Mayne-Nicholls said in his closing statement on Thursday.

"The concept you are coming up with, that every single participating team would be hosted by a domestic professional team, makes perfect sense to us. It would guarantee that all the teams would be able to practice in perfect conditions."

FIFA's inspectors toured five prospective host stadiums after kicking off with a welcome at Downing Street by deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg.

The positive comments came just three months after England's bid appeared to have been undermined by the embarrassing David Triesman affair.

Triesman was forced to resign as chairman of the Football Association and the 2018 bid in May after extracts from a secretly recorded chat with a former aide suggested that Spain and Russia were conspiring to bribe referees at the World Cup finals - an allegation a FIFA inquiry said had no substance.

The vote for who will host the 2018 and 2022 tournaments will be on December 2 in Zurich.

England, who hosted the World Cup in 1966, are competing against Russia, the United States, Portugal/Spain and Belgium/Netherlands.

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