World Cup will be open to bidding
ZURICH, Switzerland ” The World Cup will no longer be rotated among continents, a decision that throws open the race for the 2018 tournament.
South Africa already has been awarded the 2010 tournament and soccer’s governing body is expected to announce Brazil ” the only candidate ” as the 2014 host Tuesday.
FIFA president Sepp Blatter said Monday the executive committee rejected a proposal from CONCACAF that would have ensured the 2018 event going to the region representing North and Central America and the Caribbean.
“FIFA’s decision does not change our own commitment to try to bring the World Cup back to the United States,” U.S. Soccer president Sunil Gulati said. “I believe that a U.S. bid will be very competitive.”
South Korea and Japan shared the 2002 World Cup and Germany was the host in 2006.
“If you go back to 2002, and look at the recent history of rotation … it’s been Asia, Europe, Africa and with 2014 going to South America,” CONCACAF general secretary Chuck Blazer told The Associated Press. “I thought in all logic and fairness the next cycle should be CONCACAF. Regrettably, that did not carry the day.”
FIFA has been under heavy pressure to open the 2018 bidding to allow nations outside CONCACAF to host the tournament. The rotation system meant that after Colombia dropped out of the 2014 race and Brazil was left as the sole candidate. Blatter was upset more South American countries did not bid.
“Something was missing,” he said. “The competition was lacking, and football is competition.”
Countries belonging to the African and South American confederations will not be eligible to host the 2018 tournament because South Africa and Brazil will have hosted the two previous tournaments.
Those interested in hosting the 2018 World Cup include the United States, England, Russia, Australia, Spain, China, Mexico and a joint bid from the Netherlands, Belgium and Luxembourg.
“Isn’t it nice?” Blatter said. “We have not yet played 2010; we have not yet awarded 2014. Yet we have all this interest in 2018.”
To avoid conflicts of interest involving FIFA executive committee members and countries bidding for 2018, Blatter said track great Sebastian Coe will oversee the process. Coe is the new chairman of FIFA’s ethics committee and the organizing committee chairman for the 2012 London Olympics.
British Prime Minister Gordon Brown was “delighted” FIFA opened the door for the World Cup to return to England.
“By 2018, it will be 52 years since England hosted the World Cup,” he said. “The nation which gave football to the world deserves to have the greatest tournament back on these shores.”
Associated Press Writer Brian Trusdell in New York contributed to this report.