“England will be a strong candidate but there are other strong candidates,” says FIFA chief Sepp Blatter about the race for the 2018 and 2022 World Cups. (Getty Images)

Double Value For World Cup Bidders

FIFA opens a double barrel campaign to host the World Cup. The football federation says it will select the host nations for 2018 and 2022 at the same time in late 2010. Bidding nations are allowed to enter both races.

The decision was taken at a meeting of the FIFA executive committee in Tokyo, chaired by president Sepp Blatter.
The two year process begins next month when FIFA sends registration forms to its member associations, with the decision on who is to host both tournaments to be taken in December 2010.

Blatter says there is interest from North America to Australia but that England is a strong candidate.

“England will be a strong candidate but there are other strong candidates,” Blatter told reporters.
“There is Spain — Spain alone or in conjunction with Portugal.

“We have another interesting document from the Netherlands and Belgium together. Maybe Qatar, not having been considered for the Olympics, will go for the World Cup. The fight is open.”

Australia, China, Mexico and Russia have also indicated they wish to be in the race to host a World Cup.
The decision to make a simultaneous announcement on the successful bidders is partly thought to be a move to give host countries more time to complete major infrastructure projects, while Blatter is also keen to assert his power within the term of his presidency.

“It will also be a good opportunity for sponsors and marketing partners to be reserved in 2018 and 2022,” Blatter says.
“When everyone is speaking of recession we have to consider it will also touch our game. FIFA is in a safe position with $800 million in reserves but we must also look at our partners.
“Sponsorship (trouble) has affected other international sports — cricket and Formula One. We can’t just say football will be safe.”

Football Federation Australia CEO, Ben Buckley, has welcomed the FIF A decision.
“Hosting the world’s biggest sporting event in Australia would be a wonderful opportunity for Australia and for the Asian region,” Buckley says in statement.

“At the last FIFA World Cup in Germany, the largest group of television viewers was from Asia and it is a large and increasingly popular sport around the region.”

Buckley also says the decision to bring forward the decision-making timeline on the hosts for both tournaments to December 2010 “is very exciting news also”.

FIFA Gives Green Light To Team GB Plan

FIFA has approved a plan to field a united British team at the 2012 Olympics, reaffirming its view that the Team GB concept will not affect the individual status of England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.
Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland have voiced concerns that taking part in Team GB may compromise their ability to compete in future international tournaments as separate teams.

But a statement issued following the FIFA executive committee meeting in Tokyo confirms its continuing belief that British member states have no reason to be concerned.

“The executive committee confirmed that the participation in the 2012 London Olympic Games of a single team representing Great Britain would not affect the existing individual status of the four British football associations,” it says.

“The British associations will be invited to determine whether they wish for such a team to participate, and how it would be composed, with a view to presenting their proposal to the FIFA executive committee in March 2009.”

The Scottish Football Association is the most strongly opposed to the idea, although British Prime Minister Gordon Brown, himself a Scot, is in favor.

Brown joked this week that his Christmas wish list includes a British football team for the 2012 Olympics in London.
Asked at his monthly press conference in Downing Street what he wanted for Christmas, Brown replied: “That we have an Olympics team for the 2012 Olympics that is a football team from Britain.”

“The issue here is very clear,” Brown told journalists.

“We are hosting

Blatter with Japanese Prime Minister Taro Aso earlier this week. Tokyo is the site for the 2008 FIFA Club World Cup. (Getty Images)

the Olympics in 2012, but at the moment, despite the fact that football is an Olympic gold medal-winning sport, there would be no UK football team in the 2012 Olympics.
“Sebastian Coe (the 2012 Olympics organizing committee chairman) and I have talked to Alex Ferguson about the possibility that he might want to be the manager.”

FIFA Lifts Suspensions

FIFA has lifted suspensions on Kuwait, Samoa and Peru.

Kuwait was suspended in late October for political interference and the lifting of its ban is only provisional to allow them to play in Asian Cup qualifying starting in January, as well as the Gulf Cup.

The FIFA Congress in March next year will decide whether the ban is permanently lifted.

Samoa was suspended in October for “repeated management problems” but this has been resolved along with the alleged political interference which led to the suspension of Peru last month. Both nations had their bans lifted.

The Executive Committee also reaffirmed its commitment to the protection of minors.

“The FIFA President believes that it is both an administrative and a moral duty of all its member Associations to protect minors,” FIFA says in a statement.

“A sub-committee of the Players’ Status Committee approved new regulations. All minors transfers (players under the age of 18) must now be submitted to the sub-committee.

“In addition, Academies must also register all their players with the member association of the respective territory.”

Written by Anthony Stavrinos

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