Beckham lifts England's bid

ENGLAND 2018 bid leaders believe they have been buoyed by David Beckham's star turn at the Fifa Congress yesterday and also boosted by Australia's decision to pull out of the race for the tournament and focus instead on 2022.

England midfielder Beckham and former South Africa and Leeds defender Lucas Radebe added star quality to the exhibition in Johannesburg and the bid team will spend the rest of the tournament lobbying hard.

Australia withdrew a day after Asian Football Confederation president Mohammed Bin Hammam suggested Asian bidders should step aside from 2018 and concentrate on bidding for 2022, leaving one rival fewer in England's path.