10 potential bidders for 2018 & 2022 World Cups

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MOSCOW - Sepp Blatter expects tough competition for the right to host the 2018 and 2022 World Cups, the FIFA president said on Saturday.

"We already have 10 potential bidders," Blatter told a news conference during the opening of the CIS Cup, an annual tournament involving the club champions from the 15 former Soviet republics.

"If we go from west to east we have Mexico, United States, Spain alone or together with Portugal, England, a joint bid from the Netherlands and Belgium, I do hope Russia (will bid), Japan, Qatar, China and Australia."

South Africa will host the 2010 World Cup and Brazil is due to stage the 2014 edition.

Turning to Russian soccer chief Vital Mutko, Blatter said: "I definitely expect Russia to be a candidate to host the World Cup either in 2018 or 2022."

Alexei Sorokin, general director of the Russian FA, said officials had yet to make up their mind about submitting a formal bid.

"We haven't sent an official letter to FIFA yet as we're still waiting for the government to formally endorse our bid," Sorokin told Reuters.

This week world soccer's ruling body set a Feb. 2 deadline for potential bidders to formally express their interest.

For the first time FIFA will have a simultaneous bidding process for the two events, which will be awarded to the successful candidates in December 2010.