17 Jul 2010

World Cup candidates plan to put best foot forward

6:04 pm on 17 July 2010

Just a week after the buzz of vuvuzela horns died down in South Africa, fresh football World Cup fever is gripping nine candidates battling to host the showpiece in 2018 or 2022.

Next week, football's governing body FIFA kicks off a two-month inspection tour of Japan, South Korea, Australia, the Netherlands-Belgium, Russia, England, Spain-Portugal, the United States and Qatar in that order.

A team of around six FIFA-appointed experts will visit the candidate countries to inspect stadiums and other facilities.

Japan, South Korea, Australia and Qatar, all members of the Asian Football Confederation (AFC), have submitted bids for 2022 only.

England, Russia and the United States are bidding to host either 2018 or 2022, as are Spain-Portugal and the Netherlands-Belgium.

If Europe gets 2018, the continent will be excluded from the 2022 race.

The first stop, Japan, is counting on its impressive organisational, financial and technological power to win the 2022 event.

It co-hosted the 2002 World Cup with South Korea after staging one summer and two winter Olympics.