Belgian-Dutch bid eyes support from small nations
EINDHOVEN, Netherlands (AP) -The joint World Cup bid by Belgium and the Netherlands will target smaller nations in their campaign to help sway the vote for the 2018 or 2022 tournament.
Even though the decision is made by the 24-member executive committee, the two federations are convinced smaller nations could help pressure the executives because a successful joint bid will improve their chances of organizing the world's biggest single-sport event themselves in the future.
"Only five to 10 countries can organize such an event on their own. The others cannot,'' said bid director Harry Been. "We will show FIFA that we can do it.''
Within the executive committee there are 14 representatives whose countries would be unlikely to host a World Cup by themselves.
"It should not be a monopoly of big countries,'' said Belgian bid director Alain Courtois. "Small countries have a majority.''
Facing the Belgian-Dutch bid are Australia, England, Indonesia, Japan, Mexico, Russia, Spain-Portugal, which have also bid to host both World Cups. Qatar and South Korea bid for 2022 only.
England is among the leading contenders to host in 2018, while the United States and Australia is viewed as a top candidate for 2022.
The Belgian-Dutch bid Monday announced its high profile ambassadors, which include soccer greats Johan Cruyff and Ruud Gullit on the Dutch side and Enzo Scifo and Paul Van Himst on the Belgian side.
Non-football ambassadors include Dutch Olympic swimming champion Pieter van den Hoogenband and Belgian tennis star Justine Henin.
Courtois said that the December 2010 vote could offer them their last realistic chance to organize the event as the popularity of the game increases globally, increasing the number of countries hoping to host the event in the future.
The bid's backers recognize that they are not among the favorites, but hope that if they can get through the first round of voting their bid can gather momentum.
"We have to sneak into the second round and then we can make it,'' said Gullit.
All candidates have to submit their bid book to FIFA by May.