FIFA plan Olympic-style bidding to host World Cup finals

MONTE CARLO (Reuters) - FIFA is expected to propose Olympic-style bidding for future World Cup finals following a landmark review by football’s governing body of how its showpiece event is awarded, sources said on Thursday.

As part of the shake-up to be unveiled in October, bidding for the right to host the multi-billion dollar tournament will be opened up to all regions across the globe from 2018, ending FIFA’s rotation policy.

“There will be a slight twist, however, in that the previous two regions or continents to host the finals will not be allowed to bid,” one source close to the talks told Reuters.

“So, say for 2018, South America and Africa nations would not be allowed to bid, but countries from every other region could. The new idea is based on the bidding for the Olympics which generates more excitement and interest.”

South Africa will stage the finals in 2010, while Brazil is expected to be confirmed in November as host for the 2014 event under the rotation policy.

“The fact that Brazil is the only bid has woken FIFA up,” a FIFA source said.

“It realises the commercial benefits and revenue which can be gained by having such a wider bidding competition, particularly by its associations through sponsorship and backing without even being awarded the finals. This has been lost for 2014.”

The move is also seen as a way of appeasing UEFA, the body which governs the game in Europe. Under the traditional system, a European country was awarded the event every three cycles.

In a bid to increase football’s global appeal, FIFA president Sepp Blatter said this could no longer be guaranteed.

However, Blatter has come under pressure in recent months from his close ally, UEFA president Michel Platini, to give the green light to Europe for the 2018 event after the head of football’s world governing body indicated his preference for the event to go to North America.

“Under this new policy, Europe would be allowed to at least bid every three cycles no matter what, which generates enough interest and financial revenues to a keep them sweet,” the first source said.

According to the sources, the new proposals have been widely welcomed by all confederations with the exception of CONCACAF, which represents North America, Central America and the Caribbean.

CONCACAF president Jack Warner -- also a FIFA vice-president -- is said to be unhappy because he wants Mexico to host the 2018 finals.

England and the Benelux -- joint bid by Belgium, the Netherlands and Luxembourg -- have already confirmed their intention to bid for 2018 should Europe be allowed. Other nations including Russia, the United States, China, Italy, Spain and Australia have also made their interests known.