Mon, Jul 30, 2007 - Page 19 News List

Many potential hosts for 2018 World Cup, Blatter says

AP , JAKARTAAP, JAKARTA

FIFA president Joseph Sepp Blatter, right, waves as Asian Football Confederation president Mohamed bin Hammam looks on as they watch the third-place play-off match in the Asian Football Cup tournament in Palembang, Indonesia, on Saturday.

PHOTO: AFP

Europe has no right to believe it is the natural host of the 2018 World Cup, as other confederations have proved they can hold the event successfully, FIFA president Sepp Blatter said on Saturday.

Blatter, in Indonesia to attend yesterday's final of the Asian Cup between Iraq and Saudi Arabia, said the event had been a "resounding success."

Asked whether that success would boost the chances of Asia hosting the World Cup in 2018, Blatter said he favors continued rotation between continents.

With Europe having hosted last year, Africa in 2010 and South America in 2014, a continued rotation policy would see the World Cup return to either the CONCACAF region or Asia ahead of any return to Europe.

However Europe wants the event to return there in 2018, with England among the leading bidders.

A decision on the 2018 host continent is likely to take place in November.

"When it goes to rotation, the next confederation should be North America or CONCACAF, unless you consider the Americas together," Blatter said on Saturday.

"This is being studied and is in discussion and it will be very interesting. `Europe think they are privileged and they should have the World Cup, even in rotation, every third time, but why? There is no written rule they can have it. Other confederations have shown they can organize it," Blatter said.

Blatter mentioned Australia, China and India as three Asian nations capable of hosting the next World Cup in Asia.

Meanwhile, the FIFA president also foreshadowed further moves to be made against simulation during matches.

He said players whose injury, supposed or real, requires a stoppage to the game, may have to remain off the pitch for a period of about five minutes.

"The expulsion for five minutes could be a good solution, but you would need timekeepers on the bench," Blatter said.

"It will be back on the agenda next year, at the end of February or start of March when the board will meet again. Definitely something has to be done," he said.

Qatar was officially unveiled yesterday as the host of the next Asian Cup, with the tournament likely to be held in January of 2011.

Qatar was the only final bidder for the event, after embryonic bids from south Asia faltered, while an interested Australia was precluded from consideration as the event must alternate away from east Asia for the next edition.

Hosting the event in January rather than July will avoid the extreme heat in the Gulf region, but does raise questions about the availability of star players, who also have European club commitments.

But Asian Football Confederation (AFC) president Mohammed Bin Hammam was confident the players would be released.

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