Retired footballer and former Bafana Bafana captain, Lucas Radebe, said he believes England can win the bid to host the 2018 FIFA World Cup, looking at the country’s track record and its top league.
Radebe, who was in Botswana for a charity event, said he is convinced England has all the ingredients to host the world.
“I think they have a good chance because they have infrastructure and the passion,” Radebe, who has joined David Beckham as 2018 ambassador, told Sunday Standard. “With my experience in the 12 years I played there, I have seen the passion of the players and support of the fans. They have the most exciting league in the world.”
The UK media has reported that 11 bidders are officially in the race. The candidates are Australia, England, Indonesia, Japan, Mexico, Qatar, Russia, South Korea and United States, plus joint bids from Belgium-Netherlands and Spain-Portugal.
Qatar and South Korea have applied only for the 2022 finals. The other nine candidates are in both races.
Radebe’s own country, South Africa, is hosting the first World Cup in Africa although Bafana Bafana is on the verge of going out in the group stages.
Radebe said South Africa had to convince a lot of people about his country hosting the 2010 FIFA World Cup, which is proving to be successful despite pockets of crime reported.
“There was negative perception, but we had to convince a lot of people (that we can host). We are now in control in terms of violence, venue and issues of transportation,” said the 41-year-old former defender. “We are now hosting the World Cup and they (skeptics) are now in South Africa enjoying.”
Radebe was in Botswana as a trainer and coach for the Coaching for Conservation, a conservation project in Botswana, which blends soccer skills to wildlife protection.
Radebe, who has been linked with a coaching role at his former club Leeds United, explained that he was in Botswana in the capacity of the English 2018 World Cup ambassador.
He described the conservation project as ‘a great programme’, which teaches skills for the upcoming generation.
“It prepares the upcoming generation on how to better their skills and how to be successful,” he said.
Radebe added that the 250 school kids that attended the camp are fortunate because they have role models.
“This is when you can see the talent; there are coaches, support of government and companies and the future is bright,” added Radebe, saying Botswana football can improve if these kids get the quality in terms of sponsorship.
“The kids have gotten the message and you can see they are upbeat, which is great,” he added.
Twelve-year-old Philemon Johane, a pupil from Letsholathebe Primary School, is one of the 250 kids that participated at the camp. “We learnt how to play football and I want to be like Ronaldo,” said the boy.