South America gets 2014 World CupPosted: Friday March 07, 2003 12:55 PM
Updated: Friday March 07, 2003 4:16 PM
ZURICH, Switzerland (AP) -- The 2014 World Cup will be held in South America, world soccer's governing body FIFA announced Friday.
The announcement follows an earlier decision that the tournament should rotate between continents.
"We are bringing it to a continent which hasn't organized a World Cup since 1978, although they have won it nine times," said FIFA President Sepp Blatter.
Germany has already been awarded the next World Cup in 2006, while Africa -- which has never yet hosted the event -- has been promised the 2010 edition.
Asia staged the tournament for the first time in 2002 when South Korea and Japan served as joint hosts.
The decision marks the World Cup's return to South America for the first time since 1978, when it was staged in Argentina.
The tournament was to be held in Colombia in 1986, but was moved to Mexico after organizers told FIFA they had financial troubles and were unable to stage the event.
The South Americans are still chafing from the executive committee's decision in Madrid in December to reorganize the distribution of berths, which in effect cost South America two places at the next World Cup.
South America had always been guaranteed four berths at the World Cup, and used to play off with Oceania for an extra spot -- an event it usually won, especially over the last two decades.
However, the executive committee decided in December to guarantee Oceania a spot, therefore eliminating South America's chance at an extra fifth berth.
In addition, the reigning World Cup champions will no longer automatically qualify for the tournament, meaning Brazil will have to compete for one of the four South American slots.
The decision prompted FIFA senior vice president Julio Grondona, representing the South American confederation, to submit a proposal Friday to have 36 instead of 32 teams compete at the 2006 World Cup in Germany.
Blatter said that would be considered at a later date.
"We have sent the ball back to Germany's side of the field," he said. "The German organizers will have to deal with the problem of examining the matter. I'm sure they will send the ball back to FIFA rapidly and then we will have to decide whether the proposal is acceptable or not.
"But before entering in-depth discussions on the (eliminatory) system of having 36 teams, we need to see all the parameters of increasing the number of teams: the contracts of the organizing associations, all the marketing matters, all the television matters, stadiums and guarantees."
Blatter insisted the economic problems which have crippled much of South America, notably Argentina, in the past decade would not be a problem.
"I wouldn't say all of South America has been economically depressed because some have had some wonderful economies," he said. "Chile and Brazil are in a good state, and Venezuela and Colombia if they didn't have other problems, are very rich countries.
"Who can predict the economy of tomorrow? Besides, the World Cup is not dependent on the economic strength of the country where it's played. Its strengths are the quality of the game and quality of the competition."