England have unveiled a number of foreign football players to help promote their World Cup 2018 bid.
The annoucement comes amid criticism of the campaign from FIFA executive member Jack Warner.
CONCACAF president Warner said on Wednesday that England’s bid needed to exploit its heavyweight backing and England presented a squad of past and present overseas players as international ambassadors for the bid.
The list includes Warner’s Trinidad and Tobago compatriot Kenwyne Jones, Ivory Coast defender Kolo Toure, Paraguay’s Roque Santa Cruz, Nigeria’s Nwankwo Kanu, Argentina’s 1978 World Cup winners Osvaldo Ardiles and Ricardo Villa, Italy’s Gianfranco Zola and South Africa’s Lucas Radebe.
“We feel each and every individual will be a tremendous asset to England 2018,” bid chief executive Andy Anson told a Leaders in Football conference at Chelsea’s Stamford Bridge.
England players like David Beckham, Wayne Rooney and former greats Gary Lineker and Alan Shearer have already given the bid their backing.
The FA said each ambassador would offer support to England 2018 at home and abroad, including use of their images in promotional materials and in meetings with key figures.
FA chairman Lord Triesman acknowledged Warner’s recent comments but pointed out that a successful England bid would have an impact on regions around the world.
“Because of England’s diversity and integration, players from every nation enjoy a home from home welcome. They are the best witnesses when they describe their enjoyment of playing in English grounds,” he said. “They will help us take our message across the world and I hope help us bring the World Cup here in 2018.”
“They are able to point out, because we faced our demons in the past, that in England you can play your football without racial abuse and that’s not true everywhere.
“And you can also do it with the assurance that when we see signs of any re-emergence of the problem we will stamp on it, we will take it on head-on,” he added.