FIFA president proposes changes to World Cup host-selection rules

By Raf Casert

BRUSSELS, Belgium – FIFA president Sepp Blatter will propose new World Cup bidding rules that would dash the hopes of the United States to host the 2018 tournament.

Blatter said Monday he wants to avoid the World Cup staying in the Americas after Brazil stages it in 2014. He said there were enough strong candidates to organize the world’s biggest sports event in 2018 that some countries should be spilled over into the 2022 bidding process.

“There are so many that I will propose to the executive committee that we shall open the bid for 2018 and 2022 and try to channel the different bidders,” Blatter said at the European parliament.

“For instance, we are now in the Americas for 2014 and we know that the USA, Mexico – they will be candidates,” adding they would be excluded because of their continental proximity.

Instead, chances are that the World Cup would return to Europe in the wake of the highly successful edition in Germany two years ago.

“You know there is a wish and a will that every third World Cup shall come back to Europe,” Blatter said.

European teams have by tradition dominated World Cups, along with Brazil and Argentina from South America.

Japan and South Korea co-hosted the 2002 World Cup. The competition will go to Africa for the first time in 2010 when South Africa is the host.

FIFA’s executive committee scrapped the continental rotation policy last year. Ever since, candidates have been lining up.

“In Europe, you have definitely England, Spain – Spain alone or with Portugal – Russia. And then you have China, Japan, Australia, Qatar,” Blatter said.

Belgium and the Netherlands have a joint bid already deposited at FIFA headquarters in Zurich, Switzerland.

“If you ask me what is the chance of Belgium and Holland, it is a good candidature, definitely,” Blatter said. “But the competition is a high-level competition.”

Blatter will make the proposals for a regional bidding structure later this month.

The 2018 host will be selected at an executive committee meeting in 2011.