Blatter says World Cup should head to N.America
LONDON (Reuters) - The 2018 World Cup should be held in North America, although Asia and Europe could also host the finals, FIFA president Sepp Blatter said on Wednesday.
"If the FIFA executive committee decides later this year that the rotation policy is maintained, in strict procedure it should be in North America in 2018 and there are three countries who could host it there -- the United States, Mexico and Canada," Blatter told a media briefing.
He dismissed suggestions it was a foregone conclusion the tournament would be held in Europe in 11 years' time.
England, who hosted the World Cup in 1966, has expressed a keen interest in staging the 2018 finals with the government strongly backing the idea.
"I can understand the eagerness of the English FA, supported by politicians, to stage the finals, but it is not definite the finals will come back to Europe in 2018," added Blatter.
The U.S., Australia and China have also signalled their intentions to host the world's biggest single sporting event.
Blatter was in England for a series of meetings including one with Chancellor Gordon Brown later on Wednesday.
FIFA will make a decision on the host nation for the 2014 finals -- and on its future rotation policy -- in Durban, South Africa in November just before the qualifying round draw for the 2010 finals which are being staged in South Africa.
Brazil are the expected, but far from certain, choice for 2014 while Colombia have also announced they will be bidding.
However, Blatter said he thought Colombia's bid was "more for PR reasons to promote the country" than a realistic attempt to stage the finals.
He has said previously that if Brazil was not awarded the World Cup then the finals "could be moved north".
If that was the case, he said, FIFA could well decide to treat "the Americas" as one confederation.
If 2014 was moved to, for example, the U.S., that would open the way for the 2018 finals to be staged in Europe or Asia.
If Brazil, part of the South American confederation, is awarded the finals, then FIFA could still give the 2018 World Cup to the U.S., Mexico or Canada as members of the CONCACAF (North American and Caribbean) confederation.
Blatter added that a discussion to have every third finals in Europe was never fully decided upon.
"We should consider the rotation of the World Cup as a privilege for all the confederations to have the right to host the World Cup if they can meet the right conditions -- though without Australia, which is now part of the Asian confederation, Oceania are not in a position to host it."
The U.S. announced last week it would consider bidding for 2018, while Blatter said senior Chinese officials had informed him of their interest.
"In discussing the Beijing Olympics, Chinese officials have also told me they are considering a bid for a future World Cup," he added.
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