The Australian government said Sunday it backed the country’s bid to organise the 2018 World Cup, despite comments from FIFA President Sepp Blatter that Europe would likely host the tournament.
Finance Minister Lindsay Tanner said Blatter had been “a little cute” when he suggested the World Cup would move back to the northern hemisphere for 2018.
Blatter, who was in Sydney for FIFA’s 58th Congress, last week indicated that football’s biggest competition would by hosted by a European contender and urged some nations, including Australia, to re-think their bids.
“We have South Africa in 2010 and Brazil in 2014. Australia is also in the southern hemisphere — is that not so?” he said.
“It would be a logical approach for the 2018 competition to go back (to the northern hemisphere).”
But Tanner said the tournament was no longer by the traditional pattern of alternating between Europe and Latin America.
“I think the comments from Sepp Blatter were just a little cute,” he told ABC television.
The traditional pattern had recently been broken by South Africa staging the contest in 2010 before it returned to South America with Brazil in 2014, he said.
“And what our bid is timed to reflect of course, is that in 2018 it will go beyond a Latin American option,” Tanner said.
Tanner said the government was guided by Football Federation Australia and would push ahead with its 60 million dollar (57 million US) bid to host the event.
And while winning hosting rights would be difficult, Blatter did not make the decision alone, Tanner said.
“Ultimately, he doesn’t make the decision,” he said. “He’s an influential player. He doesn’t make the decision.”
European powers England, Spain, Russia and a joint Dutch-Belgian effort are also expected to bid for 2018, Blatter said, along with Asia’s China, Japan and Qatar, and the United States and Mexico.
FIFA statutes prevent consecutive editions of the world’s premier tournament from being staged on the same continent.
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