x Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 21 July 2017

AFC ready to back England bid

Mohamed bin Hammam, the AFC president has put his weight behind England's bid to host the 2018 World Cup.

Mohamed bin Hammam, the president of the Asian Football Confederation (AFC) has put his weight behind England's bid to host the 2018 World Cup while praising the Premier League's role in helping develop the sport in Asia. Bin Hammam has given a glowing endorsement to the English game and its partnerships with Asian football, suggesting he is ready to put his considerable influence behind England's bid.

In June, bin Hammam said the AFC would back Europe's bid for 2018, which would likely clear the way for Asia to host the tournament in 2022, with Australia, Qatar, Japan and South Korea all bidding. Now it seems he is ready to get behind England's bid ahead of Russia and joint bids from Spain/Portugal and Holland/Belgium. In a letter addressing the Premier League's annual review, bin Hamman said: "We all know that the Premier League is the best-followed football action around the planet. But it is not just through the compelling action on the pitch that the Premier League touches our lives.

"As the president of the AFC, I am in a good position to vouch for the Premier League's international off-the-pitch work. I have first-hand experience of the deep impact and benefits of its thoughtful projects, particularly in Asia. "Coaching clinics in India, keynote speakers at AFC's seminars, Asian referee attachments in England, Premier League club tours of our continent. If 'Giving Back to the Game' is popular in football circles now, the Premier League can rightly claim to be the pioneers of this concept."

The AFC's votes could hold the key in the battle to stage World Cup 2018. Such strong support from Asia's chief can only enhance the theory that bin Hammam is ready to influence key Asian figures to go with England in return for the English backing Qatar's 2022 bid.