Balkenende backs World Cup bid

5th July 2007, Comments 0 comments

6 July 2007, THE HAGUE (AP) - Dutch Prime Minister Jan Peter Balkenende wants the Netherlands and Belgium to jointly host the 2018 World Cup.

6 July 2007

THE HAGUE (AP) - Dutch Prime Minister Jan Peter Balkenende wants the Netherlands and Belgium to jointly host the 2018 World Cup.

"It's a fantastic plan," Balkenende said Thursday after meeting with Dutch soccer officials, including national coach Marco van Basten.

The two neighbours combined to stage the 2000 European Championships. The tournament was given high marks generally but was marred by fighting between hooligans that led to 1,300 people being detained in Belgium.

World soccer's governing body FIFA will decide in 2011 who will host the 2018 finals.

The next World Cup, in 2010, is to be staged in South Africa. Brazil is the sole candidate to host the 2014 tournament, with FIFA's executive committee scheduled to vote in November.

Political support is increasingly seen as necessary for such bids to succeed.

Former British prime minister Tony Blair's decision to travel to Singapore _ ahead of the International Olympic Committee's decision on the host city for the 2012 Summer Games _ was seen as key to London's success.

Also, Russian President Vladimir Putin's personal pitch Wednesday to Olympic officials meeting in Guatemala City was credited with helping to win the 2014 Winter Games for the Black Sea resort of Sochi.

No World Cup has been held in the Netherlands, which has never won the tournament. The Dutch team of the 1970s, led by soccer great Johan Cruyff, is often considered the best side never to win the World Cup.

In 1988, Van Basten was part of the Dutch team that won the European Championships.

[Copyright AP 2007]

Subject: Belgian news, Dutch news

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