11 enter 2018/2022 race

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FIFA has received a total of 11 formal expressions of interest to bid for the 2018 and/or the 2022 FIFA World Cups by the established deadline of 2 February 2009.

The member associations that have confirmed their interest in hosting FIFA's flagship competition are confirmed as: Australia, Belgium and the Netherlands, England, Indonesia, Japan, Korea Republic, Mexico, Qatar, Russia, Spain and Portugal, and the USA. 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. However, according to the Efe news wire, FIFA will not allow two countries to co–host either the 2018 or 2022 event, which does not bode well for joint bids proposed 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. FIFA will now send the Bid Registration form on 16 February to the member associations which have formally expressed their interest to bid for the 2018 and the 2022 FIFA World Cups. Formal bids must be submitted by 11 December 2009. Meanwhile, South Africa's State President, Kgalema Motlanthe, believes his country is firmly on track to deliver an inaugural African FIFA World Cup in 2010 that will once and for all positively change global perceptions of the continent. In his State of the Nation Address to the South African Parliament in early February, Motlanthe said preparations for the historic tournament were at an advanced stage, with South Africa ready to repay the global football community's faith in the 2010 FIFA World Cup host country. Speaking in the context of the current global financial crisis, Motlanthe said it was now even more important for South Africa to forge " stronger partnerships among economic role players on a domestic and global scale" . He said that hosting major global events such as the FIFA World Cup – with the international exposure and global partnerships that will accrue as a result – would help accelerate South Africa towards " a higher growth and development path" . Whilst stimulating the South African economy was an important factor, Motlanthe said the true imperative of a successful 2010 FIFA World Cup was to change negative perceptions of South Africa and Africa and to put the spotlight on a friendly, modern continent ripe for investment and tourism opportunities. " The true legacy of this spectacle will be in our ability to showcase South African and African hospitality and humanity – to change once and for all perceptions of our country and our continent among peoples of the world. That depends on all of us; and to that we can attach no price, " said Motlanthe. As the country gets set to welcome the likes of Spain, Brazil and Italy during the FIFA Confederations Cup from 14 to 28 June, it does so buoyant with some recent sporting success across many sporting codes. For a proud, fanatical sporting country, the next 18 months will be like no other as it builds up to the 11 June 2010 opening match of the 2010 FIFA World Cup. It's a challenge – and an opportunity – that South Africa is relishing.

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