A six-man Fifa inspection team, led by the president of the Chilean football federation Harold Mayne-Nicholls, has begun its evaluation of England’s bid to host the 2018 World Cup.
After a reception and presentation at 10 Downing Street hosted by Nick Clegg, the team visited Wembley Stadium by tube where they inspected the facilities and met England manager Fabio Capello on the pitch.
Over the next four days the inspectors are due to have several presentations and will fly over a number of proposed 2018 venues including the new Olympic Stadium, Arsenal’s Emirates Stadium, White Hart Lane, Nottingham Forest’s City Ground and Elland Road in Leeds.
They are also due to visit Sunderland and Newcastle before the focus moves to Manchester where Old Trafford and the City of Manchester Stadium will be in the spotlight.
Nick Clegg, who was joined by Culture Secretary Jeremy Hunt and Sports Minister Hugh Robertson when he greeted the delegation at Number 10, believes Fifa will be won over by the size of the support for the English bid.
“While you are here, you’ll see existing facilities available now to stage a first-class Fifa World Cup,” England 2018’s chief executive, Andy Anson, said in a speech delivered to Fifa delegates. “You’ll be able to see them with your own eyes – not just in your imagination.”