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Belgium-Netherlands Bid Eyes Small-Nation Support
AP, September 22nd, 2009 3:30PM

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As part of a joint World Cup bid, Belgium and the Netherlands will target smaller nations in their campaign to earn the vote for the 2018 or 2022 World Cup. "It should not be a monopoly of big countries. Small countries have a majority.'' said Belgian bid director Alain Courtois. The decision to place the World Cup is ultimately made by a 24-member executive committee. Fourteen of these representatives come from countries that are unlikely to host a World Cup by themselves.

Competitors to the Belgian-Dutch bid are Australia, England, Indonesia, Japan, Mexico, Russia, Spain-Portugal and the USA, which have bid to host both World Cups. Qatar and South Korea bid for 2022 only. England is among the leading contenders to host in 2018, while the United States and Australia are considered the top candidates for 2022.

The Belgian-Dutch bid Monday announced its high profile ambassadors, which include Johan Cruyff and Ruud Gullit on the Dutch side and Enzo Scifo and Paul Van Himst on the Belgian side. The bid's backers recognize that the odds are against them, but hope that getting through the first round of voting, held in December 2010, could help their bid gather momentum. "We have to sneak into the second round and then we can make it,'' said Gullit.

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