FIFA inspectors began a four-day visit to inspect England’s 2018 World Cup bid on Monday with the campaign boosted by encouraging words from FIFA president Sepp Blatter.
A six-man FIFA inspection team was to be greeted by Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg at Downing Street and also meet England manager Fabio Capello before taking a tour of Wembley Stadium.
The team will also assess facilities and stadiums in Manchester, Sunderland and Newcastle this week.
England face a tough battle in the bid to stage football’s premier tournament for the first time since 1966 with Russia considered to be the frontrunner.
England’s hopes of staging the tournament were boosted when Blatter, who has already praised Russia’s bid, said it would be “easy” to hold the competition in England.
He told website from Singapore: “The easiest way to organise the World Cup is to go to England.
“Everything is there — fans, stadiums, infrastructure — it’s easy.”
The absence of British Prime Minister David Cameron from the greeting committee has raised eyebrows — he is on a family holiday.
But Cameron has spoken by telephone to Blatter, who urged him to take his holiday, Sports Minister Hugh Robertson said.
The chief executive of the England 2018 bid team, Andy Anson, said: “We believe our Bid Book represents a strong proposal to FIFA that will focus on what it can do for football all over the world.”
England is also competing with the United States, Australia, and joint bids from Spain and Portugal, and Holland and Belgium to host the 2018 tournament.
The campaign received a boost on Friday with the announcement that Paul the octopus, the oracle of this year’s World Cup in South Africa, has been made an official bid ambassador.
The winning bids for the 2018 and the 2022 World Cup will be revealed on December 2. The 2014 tournament will be held in Brazil.