LONDON, April 4, 2011 (AFP) - FIFA president Sepp Blatter on Monday moved to win over the Football Association (FA) after the humiliation of last December's vote for the 2018 and 2022 World Cups by insisting it had not been part of his personal mission to take the competition to new territories.
On his first visit to England since they lost their bid to host the 2018 event, Blatter had lunch at Wembley with FA chiefs as one of the first meetings on the campaign trail for re-election - FIFA have confirmed he will have just one challenger, Asian confederation chief Mohamed Bin Hammam, in the election on June 1.
|A view of the FIFA Women's World Cup official ball during the Germany 2011 FIFA Women's World Cup Welcome Tour press conference at the Westin Georgetown on March 28, 2011 in Washington, DC. AFP|
Many figures in the FA are still furious at FIFA's complete rejection of the England bid, especially as Blatter had highlighted the fact that Russia and Qatar had never hosted the tournament before after they were announced as the 2018 and 2022 winners.
Blatter was accompanied by FIFA secretary general Jerome Valcke while the FA was represented by chairman David Bernstein, general secretary Alex Horne, director of football development Sir Trevor Brooking and head of international relations Jane Bateman.
It is understood Blatter gave assurances that no strategy was in place to target new hosts and also promised that FIFA would never again hold the vote for two tournaments at the same time.
An FA statement said the talks with Blatter had ranged over a number of issues including World Cup bidding.
"The meeting covered a range of topics including a review of recent decisions taken by the International Football Association Board, FIFA committee issues, the international football calendar, third-party ownership, the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games and the process of bidding to host FIFA World Cup tournaments," the statement read.
"Mr Blatter also took the opportunity to update the FA on his candidacy for a further term as FIFA president."
Bernstein has insisted the FA will study the manifestos of both candidates before the board makes a decision who to back.
England 2018 secured just two out of a possible 22 votes of the FIFA executive committee, and one of those was from England's FIFA vice-president Geoff Thompson.