2018 World Cup hosts may be named early

JOHANNESBURG - FIFA is considering picking the 2018 and 2022 World Cup hosts by the end of 2010 to allow more time for major infrastructure work, world football's governing body FIFA said on Sunday. FIFA General Secretary Jerome Valcke said South Africa's rush to complete the construction work needed to host the 2010 World Cup was proof more time was needed by future hosts. "We have already had a discussion within FIFA around the possibility of designating both the 2018 and 2022 hosts at the same time. We will start the 2018 bidding process early next year and expect to make a decision by December 2010," he said. "We feel seven years is the minimum time you need for a country to build all the infrastructure they need to host a World Cup." South Africa was picked as host of the 2010 finals in May 2004, giving the country just over six years to prepare. The country is building six new stadiums and renovating four, rebuilding airports and investing massively in upgrading its road and rail networks. Many of the projects are on tight deadlines. FIFA awarded the 2014 World Cup to Brazil in October 2007. Bidding for the 2018 finals has begun in earnest, with Australia, Belgium and the Netherlands, China, England, Mexico, Russia, Spain and Portugal and the United States already indicating their interest. "It is quite evident that six years is a bare minimum to organise a World Cup. There is not much flexibility and time is fundamental," Valcke said. "Many projects in South Africa are scheduled to be finished...just a month before the finals."