England, Australia lead 2018/2022 World Cup bids

Updated: May 14, 2010, 21:24 PM IST

Zurich: England footballer David Beckham and Australian football chief Frank Lowy handed in their nations’ bids to host football’s World Cup in 2018 or 2022 to FIFA here on Friday.

They were due to be followed by the Netherlands and Belgium, Japan, South Korea, Qatar, Russia, Spain and Portugal, and the United States in official ceremonies at the world governing body’s headquarters.

“We have a lot of passion for the game and passion for bringing the biggest sporting event to the country,” said Beckham as he handed over the thick three volume bid to the FIFA president Sepp Blatter.

“This is something that runs throughout our country, our veins, it’s something that we were brought up with,” Beckham added, accompanied by Football Association (FA) chiefs.

England are notably highlighting the multinational presence in the nation, as the nine bidders kick off lobbying of their fellow FIFA members ahead of the World Cup next month.

Blatter said: “Yesterday I received a call from new British prime minister David Cameron. Not only he expressed his determination to be behind the bid but also to be behind the World Cup 2010.”

Lowy, the chairman of Football Federation Australia, was accompanied by Australian Sports Minister Kate Ellis and FFA chief executive Ben Buckley.

Many bidders have enrolled star power to woo support.

While England is turning to its own footballers, it has also for the first time tapped foreign players who have become the backbone of the Premier League in the past two decades.

Backers include former French international David Ginola, Osvaldo Ardiles of Argentina, Germany’s Michael Ballack and Ghana’s Michael Essien.

Australia, meanwhile, has enrolled an array of sporting prowess like swimmer Ian Thorpe and Formula One star Mark Webber, backed by Hollywood stars Nicole Kidman and Hugh Jackman.

FIFA has traditionally sought to rotate one of sport’s biggest events around continents.

There have been strong hints that after a first foray into Africa this year and Brazil in 2014, the World Cup finals would return to Europe four years later and its Asian region – which includes the Middle East – in 2022.

The final choice will be down to FIFA’s ruling executive committee, which will vote for the host countries on December 2.

Bureau Report