Pele backs England's 2018 World Cup bid

November 7, 2007

World Cup legend Pele believes England have a strong case to host the 2018 tournament.

The Football Association last week announced their intention to bid for the event and Pele, whose own country Brazil will host in 2014, feels England is well suited.

Pele is currently visiting England as part of the 150th anniversary celebrations of Sheffield FC, the world's oldest football club.

The three-time World Cup winner said: 'Everybody wants to have a World Cup but England is always prepared for a World Cup.

'The only problem is Europe is very close. We have had the World Cup in Germany, Italy and France.

'People think they are almost the same but they don't understand that it is a completely different country.

'But I think 12 years (from last year's tournament in Germany) is long enough and England could have the World Cup.

'England have proved already they have good stadiums and no need to build new stadiums, so no doubt.'

Pele featured last time England hosted the tournament in 1966 but it was in 1958, 1962 and 1970 that he tasted glory with the mighty Brazilians.

Now he is delighted that world governing body FIFA have awarded the competition to his homeland.

Brazil were the only country to bid for 2014 after it was allocated to South America under a continental rotation system which has now been scrapped.

There have been concerns that the country's infrastructure cannot cope with an event of such magnitude but Pele has no doubts.

Pele, 67, said: 'It is fantastic. The Brazilians love football, they live football.

'When Brazil was nominated to get the World Cup it was fantastic.

'Of course there is a lot of controversy about the situation and people ask if Brazil is ready to host the World Cup.

'If you look now, no-one is able to play in the World Cup. If FIFA was there now they would say no, but seven years from now Brazil will be in shape to host the World Cup.'

Pele was speaking at Bramall Lane, where tomorrow Sheffield FC will take on an Inter Milan XI in a friendly.

Host club Sheffield United also have links to Brazilian football through Sao Paulo, with whom they are establishing links at junior level.

The Championship outfit hope the scheme will have great long-term benefits for the club and Pele is fully behind the concept.

He said: 'This is the first time an English team has a had a direct connection with a Brazilian team.

'I am sorry about that because there a lot of Brazilian players that can play in England and more teams should have this opportunity.

'This is great. We have started to be partners and I hope the experience will be very good. I hope Brazil and Sao Paulo will help Sheffield come to the first division (Premier League).'