FIFA open to Spain-Portugal bid for 2018 and 2022

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

WASHINGTON - FIFA president Joseph Blatter said he was open to a joint bid by Spain and Portugal for the 2018 or 2022 World Cup, erasing fears that countries dividing the hosting honours will be at a disadvantage.

The US also had a “good chance” of getting one of the two dates because of the footballing organisation’s policy of rotating the prize between continents, Blatter said in Washington after a meeting with US President Barack Obama.

There are 11 bids to host the 2018 and 2022 World Cup, or both, including Australia, Russia, England, Japan, South Korea, Mexico, Qatar and Indonesia. The winners for both events will be announced in December 2010.

But Blatter in the past had said he was skeptical of countries bidding jointly, after the 2002 World Cup hosted by Japan and South Korea was plagued with recriminations between the two sides’ governing sports bodies.

“When it comes to Spain-Portugal, the situation is different,” Blatter said, noting the countries shared a “political unity” and common culture that should prevent a repeat of the problems of 2002.

Blatter had in the past said he will accept a bid by Belgium and the Netherlands, but had refused to say whether Spain and Portugal deserved the same treatment.

Obama said the World Cup would provide a “boost” for football in the US, according to Blatter. The president even showed off a few footballing moves in the White House Oval Office to make his case.

Obama’s skills “merit a compliment,” Blatter said. The president could even have earned a spot on the US team that lost 5-0 to Mexico in the CONCACAF final Sunday. “The one who lost yesterday, (Obama) would be good,” Blatter joked.

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