Charlton says time has come for Asia

ASIA should host the 2002 World Cup finals according to English soccer legend Bobby Charlton.

Charlton, World Cup winner with England in 1966, arrived in Hong Kong yesterday for a two-day stopover en route to Japan.

The 55-year-old former Manchester United great is an ambassador for Japan's bid to host the 2002 World Cup.

''It's about time the World Cup came to Asia,'' said Charlton, who is the guest of the Hong Kong Sports Development Board. ''America has it this time, no-one in South America wants it and Europe has had it many times.'' The main reason for Charlton's visit is to address the Hong Kong business community on the virtues of putting their money into sport.

Charlton, who is also a businessman and a director of Manchester United, will be speaking tonight at the SDB's annual sponsors' dinner.