English are sore losers, says Blatter

FIFA chairman Sepp Blatter believes England are still sore about failing to secure the 2018 World Cup.

The Football Association were hopeful of hosting the tournament they last staged in 1966, but lost out to Russia despite the efforts of British Prime Minister David Cameron, Prince William and David Beckham.

Since then, the FA have opposed Blatter’s re-election as the world governing body’s president, and he feels there is still some upset lingering.

He is quoted as telling Swiss newspaper Matin Dimanche: “In the 60s and 70s, the great sporting federations were in the main British. It’s no longer the case.

“The English have lost power and, most recently, the 2018 World Cup.

“They were very keen, more than for the Olympics. They thought that football should have come home.

“The World Cup was theirs by right. When they came here with Beckham, Prince William and Prime Minister Cameron, they were certain of winning. They got two votes.

“Since then, they have looked for every means to justify their defeat.”

Meanwhile former England manager Sven Goran Eriksson believes England can be crowned European champions next summer.

The Swede, who guided the nation into the quarter-finals of the 2002 and 2006 World Cups and also at Euro 2004, is confident the current crop of players can improve on that, provided they head for Poland and Ukraine fit and fresh, and manage to avoid Spain in the quarter-finals.

Eriksson told BBC Radio 5Live: “I think they have a big possibility to be in the semi-final or final. Why not win it? With a little bit of luck, not a lot of injuries and the players not too tired, they have a chance.”

England would, of course, first have to negotiate their way out of Group D, in which they will meet France, Sweden and co-hosts Ukraine, with French perhaps representing their toughest test.

Eriksson said: “They [France] have changed everything since the last World Cup and things are going very well for them, so I think they will do much better this time than they did in the World Cup.

“The squad England will have out there is very strong, so if England don’t have a lot of injuries, if they are not too tired — which always is a big issue — they are the strongest team. They should go through to the quarter-finals and I am quite sure they will do that.”

Should they succeed in reaching the quarter-finals, most commentators have predicted a last-eight clash with either Spain or Italy, although he appears to rule out Group C rivals Ireland.

Eriksson said: “Let’s hope it’s Italy. Spain, as we all know during the last years and the last two big tournaments, they have been outstanding. They have been for years now the best team in the world, so let’s hope it’s going to be Italy.”

Capello’s reign will end this summer regardless of what happens at the finals, leaving the FA with the task of finding his successor.

However, Eriksson believes the right man is under their noses in the shape of Tottenham manager Harry Redknapp. He said: “I would say Harry Redknapp is a very, very good choice. Of course, there are others, but Harry is English and if the FA wants an Englishman, I think he’s the perfect one.”

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