FIFA deadline closes

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FIFA will close its deadline for countries to express interest in hosting the 2018 and 2022 FIFA World Cup events on 2 February 2009. Formal bids must be submitted by 11 December 2009.

With the 2010 FIFA World Cup heading to Africa and the 2014 event already awarded to Brazil, African and South American nations are out of the running in 2018 and 2022, leaving the door open for Europe, Asia, CONCACAF (the North and Central American and Caribbean region) and Oceania. Insiders believe that 2018 will go to Europe and that Asia, Oceania and CONCACAF will dispute 2022. At the time of going to press, the interested countries were reported to be Australia, Belgium/Netherlands, England, Mexico, Portugal/Spain, Qatar, Russia and the US. However, according to the Efe news wire, FIFA will not allow two countries to co–host either the 2018 or 2022 event, ruling out plans by Spain and Portugal, and the Netherlands and Belgium. FIFA will reject joint–bids in favour of single–country bids that meet "certain guarantees, " Efe said, citing comments by FIFA president Sepp Blatter at an end–January news conference in Asuncion, Paraguay. Blatter had already said after the 2002 FIFA World Cup in Japan and South Korea that he did not favour co–hosting because tournament costs double. Insiders working at the 2002 event have added to MEI that it was a "logistical nightmare" intensified by the issues of dealing with two separate languages and cultures and that FIFA would be "mad" to repeat the exercise. Time will only tell. In a letter inviting expresses of interest sent out in early January 2009, FIFA stressed the fact that its flagship competition has the unequivocal power to wake emotions and unite people worldwide. FIFA is determined that this overwhelming ability to reach out to the world should benefit the game of football itself and society in general, and therefore asked that candidates make sure that this power is used in order to achieve positive change, in line with FIFA's philosophy: 'For the Game. For the World'. Meanwhile, in other bidding news, Azerbaijan will apply to host the 2020 Summer Olympics, according to the country's minister of youth and sport, Azad Rahimov, quoted by press agency APA. Azerbaijan applied to host the 2016 Olympics, but failed at the first cut.

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