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Four bidders contest 2018 World Cup prize

Last updated on: December 2, 2010 16:46 IST

A close race between the leading trio

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The four bidders seeking the right to stage the 2018 World Cup finals -- England, Netherlands/Belgium (joint bid), Russia and Spain/Portugal (joint bid) -- are in a close race with little to choose between the leading trio.

Click Next to see the latest pros and cons ahead of Thursday's vote by FIFA's executive committee.


Image: The football World Cup trophy

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England has slipped down the order

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Once seen as favourite but slipped down the order after recent British media allegations of corruption levelled against six voting FIFA executive committee members, two of whom have been suspended.

England has presented itself as the home of soccer with great stadiums and a thriving and hugely popular football culture. Wheeled out British Prime Minister David Cameron, leading royal Prince William and glamour player David Beckham to woo voting members in Zurich. But is that enough as FIFA smarts from the accusations flying its way? Hosted the tournament in 1966 and won it, the only time England ever reached a final.

Latest odds: 13-8


Image: The Wembley stadium in London

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Netherlands/Belgium seen as the rank outsider

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Mainly seen as the rank outsider and could hope to win only as a compromise candidate if FIFA sees compelling reasons to reject all the other three.

FIFA has never been keen on co-hosting -- the only such tournament in 2002 in Japan-South Korea was a late compromise -- and the two together still lack enough major stadiums.

But they did work together on a successful co-hosted European Championship in 2000 and they would provide the most compact tournament with relatively short distances between all venue cities.

Netherlands have played in three World Cup finals and lost them all, Belgium has never passed the semi-finals.

Latest odds: 40-1


Image: The Amsterdam Arena stadium

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Russia would have to build new stadiums

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Favourite in the most recent betting odds but suffered a late blow when Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin decided not to attend the Zurich presentations because of what he called "unscrupulous competition" from the British media.

His personal support had been widely seen as helping Sochi win the Winter Olympics bid for 2014.

Russia's appeal is that it has never staged the World Cup and that it would open up a vast and largely isolated territory to hundreds of thousands of visitors with no visa restrictions. But Russia would have to build new stadiums and ensure its transport infrastructure would meet an unprecedented demand.

Russia were the first European champions but have never reached a World Cup final.

Latest odds: 8-11 (favourite)


Image: The Luzhniki football stadium in Moscow

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Spain/Portugal bid could find approval

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Despite FIFA's natural aversion to co-hosting this is a bid which could find approval because Spain traditionally wields power within FIFA and the Iberian Peninsula is a neat geographical entity.

Spain are current world and European champions and hosted the World Cup back in 1982 while Portugal successfully staged the 2004 European Championship.

Spain has great stadiums and an infrastructure well adapted to receiving large numbers of tourists but the growing financial pressure on both nations' economies is bound to give rise to doubts about their ability to fund the necessary improvements in infrastructure.

Latest odds: 9-2


Image: The Santiago Bernabeu stadium in Madrid

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