Nicole Kidman lends star appeal to Australia’s bid to host World Cup in 2018 or 2022

By Graham Dunbar, AP
Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Nicole Kidman lends star appeal to Aussie WCup bid

CAPE TOWN, South Africa — Nicole Kidman is using her star power to help Australia’s bid to host the World Cup in 2018 or 2022.

The Hollywood actress appears in a promotional film that will be shown to the world’s soccer media in Cape Town on Friday, just hours before the draw for the 2010 World Cup.

In the film, Kidman promises World Cup organizer FIFA that an Aussie-hosted event would be “fun, relaxed, safe and secure.”

Bid chairman Frank told The Associated Press on Wednesday that Kidman’s message can add to Australia’s momentum in a race with nine rival bids.

“We have gone from nowhere to maybe among the top two or three or four,” said Lowy, a businessman who made billions from retail malls.

Kidman’s film was premiered at a reception hosted by Australia’s high commissioner to South Africa and attended by several of the 24 members of FIFA’s ruling executive who will decide on the 2018 and 2022 hosts in December 2010.

“I think they were very impressed,” Lowy said. “I must say that the sympathy for Australia is very good. I think our points are sinking in.”

Australia and the other candidates will each present a four-minute film at a FIFA-organized exhibition Friday before officially meeting the media for the first time.

Australia is competing for hosting rights in 2018 or 2022 against the United States, England, Japan and Russia, plus joint bids from Belgium-Netherlands and Spain-Portugal. Indonesia, Qatar and South Korea are bidding only for the 2022 finals.

Australia’s bid focuses on the nation’s track record in staging the 2000 Sydney Olympics plus single-sport events such as the World Cup in cricket and rugby union.

It positions Australia as a home to many soccer-loving immigrants from Europe and a bridge between the regions of Asia and Oceania. FIFA voters also will be told about Football Federation Australia’s youth development programs in aboriginal communities.

“We can provide growth for the game and we can assure the world that the World Cup would be at least as good as the Olympics were,” Lowy said. “All the ingredients are there but the world has to know it.”

That is where it hopes Kidman — who was born in Hawaii to Australian parents — can help as an ambassador for the “No Worries World Cup” bid.

“She was delighted to be asked. She’s very proud of her country,” bid spokeswoman Bonita Mersiades told the AP.

Mersiades said Australia can provide guarantees of government support required by FIFA with $42.6 million of state funding for the bid.

“FIFA can be assured that they don’t have to be concerned about anything. They would know it’s in a safe pair of hands,” she said.

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