Soccer

FIFA pours cold water on joint World Cup bids

Countries looking to team with neighbours in hosting soccer's World Cup tournaments in 2018 and 2022 will need to reconsider their plans, FIFA president Sepp Blatter says.

Countries looking to team with neighbours in hosting soccer's World Cup tournaments in 2018 and 2022 will need to reconsider their plans, FIFA president Sepp Blatter says.

Blatter said Friday from Asuncion, Paraguay, that as long as there is a viable individual bid, "double candidacies will not be accepted." The deadline for bids to soccer's governing body is Monday.

The Netherlands and Belgium, which co-hosted the 2000 European championship, had planned on a joint bid, as did Spain and Portugal.

"We have a long way to go, and we will hear all kinds of things," Belgian bid leader Alain Courtois told The Associated Press. "But the moment that counts is when we have the vote, not any time earlier. There have been so many statements from Blatter and there will be many more. We have to stay calm and keep pushing our joint bid."

The only World Cup hosted jointly was in 2002, in Japan and South Korea.

Japan is among the countries looking to have the stage again, with bids also expected from previous World Cup hosts England (1966), Mexico (1970, 1986) and the United States (1994).

Prospective first-timers that have made their intentions known include Australia, China, Indonesia, Qatar and Russia.

Countries aren't required at this stage to indicate if they are aiming to host in particular year or whether they are open to either tournament.

The next two World Cups will be held in South Africa (2010) and Brazil (2014).

As a result, an African country won't be eligible to host again until at least 2022, with prospective South American countries not needing to apply until four years later to be considered.

With files from the Associated Press