England 2018 clear a path to victory in World Cup battle
England 2018 last night looked to have cleared a path through the complex voting of the FIFA ExCo committee to a potential World Cup bid triumph.
Sitting comfortably? Prince William, Prime Minister David Cameron and David Beckham are in Zurich to back England's World Cup bid
There now looks a good chance that England will have at least six supporters in the first round, although the hope of seven seems unlikely.
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The six England are depending on to get
through the first round are their own Geoff
Thompson, the CONCACAF trio of Jack Warner, Chuck Blazer and Rafael Salguero, Turkey's
Senes Erzik and Japan's Junji Ogura.
Then the 'clear path to victory' being mapped out would see England pick up two or even three of the eliminated Holland/Belgium backers, expected to be Belgium's Michel D'Hooghe, France's Michel Platini and Chung Mong-joon, of Korea.
The new recruits would be enough to take England past the Russians in the second ballot and into a final shoot-out against Spain. And there are sure to be more defectors from the Russian camp to the English cause, especially with the clear Russian frustration over the Spain-Qatar vote-trading alliance.
On Tuesday night, Oceania's David Chung heard he would not get FIFA clearance to be the 23rd man around the table in FIFA House.
The presence of Nelson Mandela in Zurich saw South Africa over the line for the 2010 World Cup. The United States can't manage that, but have A-list actor Morgan Freeman, who played Mandela in the film Invictus, in their 2022 presentation panel today. President Obama isn't coming, but he did call CONCACAF chief Jack Warner yesterday.
There was a fear that dirty tricks might be in play yesterday when a package addressed to a Mrs L Anson was delivered care of the Baur au Lac hotel to England bid leader Andy Anson, whose wife is called Lisa.
It contained a single memory stick which England 2018 - wary of a bugging attempt or a virus wiping out all their computer files two days before the vote - took all precautions with before checking the USB card contents.
It turned out to be harmless and that another Mrs L Anson was staying at the hotel.
The William Hill sports book of the year has a long history of the judges going for the most unlikely winner just to be obtuse. They didn't disappoint again yesterday with the choice of former England hooker Brian Moore's self-serving autobiography.
Spain's one-man band
The Spain 2018 bid has been such a one-man show of FIFA representative Angel Maria Villar Llona lobbying behind the scenes they didn't bother with much of a technical report let alone a brochure for this week's finale.
And Spain's position as 2018 favourites despite a blatant lack of team effort, was described yesterday as 'not just' by Russian ExCo member Vitaly Mutko.
England 2018's commercial support - valued at £10million - is such that senior directors from the five main sponsors BA, Morrisons, BT, PricewaterhouseCoopers and Umbro are travelling to Switzerland today just to watch the vote unfold on television from the England hotel in Zurich.
There is such frustration among both the 2018 and 2022 World Cup bidders and the FIFA ExCo over the flawed decision to award two tournaments at the same time that the initiator Jerome Valcke's position as secretary general of FIFA looks more insecure by the day.
FIFA is so incestuous that Jean-Marie Weber, the former chairman of ISL who wrote the £10,000 cheque to CAF boss Issa Hayatou that was at the centre of the Panorama probe, was yesterday working as an advisor to CAF.
And Andreas Herren, the former FIFA media chief who was seen in the Panorama film turning his back outside FIFA House in 2005 on persistent questioning from reporter Andrew Jennings was yesterday fronting the Russia 2018 press conference as their head of communications.
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