RIO DE JANEIRO - It is time for FIFA to
give smaller nations a chance to host the World Cup, Ruud
Gullit, president of the joint Belgium-Netherlands bid to host
the 2018 edition, said on Monday.
The former Dutch international also wrote off suggestions
that his bid was the rank outsider and said he was not worried
about recent events within FIFA which led to the suspension of
two executive committee members, including one for bribery.
"We always go to the biggest countries and this is an
opportunity for smaller countries to host it, especially because
Netherlands and Belgium have been so important in the world of
football," Gullit told reporters at the Soccerex conference in
Brazil, which is staging the 2014 World Cup.
Gullit, who says the Dutch-Belgian bid is the greenest, also
pointed out that the two countries were among the founding
nations of world football's governing body in 1904.
"The fact that we are participating is because we believe in
ourselves. We are the founders of the FIFA, we take football
very seriously in our countries, in fact we take it even more
seriously as we are small countries," he said.
"I just want to think about the fact we will win the bid,"
he added, brushing off the underdogs suggestion.
"If you don't think you will win, you don't need to
The Dutch-Belgian bid has emphasised the compactness of the
two countries and has offered free public transport, including
two million free bikes, to help fans travel.
Organisers say matches would be played in 14 "truly green"
England, Russia and Spain/Portugal are the other candidates
to stage the 2018 World Cup with FIFA deciding the hosts in
Zurich on December 2.
The right to vote is restricted to FIFA's executive
committee and this was reduced to 22 members last Thursday when
Amos Adamu of Nigeria and Reynald Temarii of Tahiti were
suspended and fined.
Adamu, banned for three years for bribery, and Temarii,
banned for one year for breaching rules on ethics and loyalty,
were investigated following a report by British newspaper The
Sunday Times which said they offered to sell their votes to
The incident has cast a shadow over the whole bidding
"We just have to think about our own things," said Gullit.
"I think that FIFA is a good and strong organisation that can
resolve their problems internally.
"Our bid is about football. When we presented our bid, it
was all presented about football. That's what FIFA is all about.
"We're not going to think about what the others do, our bid
is a good bid and on December 2 when we present our bid, we hope
they will note our good points and vote for us."
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