Blatter still keen on single World Cup bids

MANCHESTER - FIFA president Sepp Blatter reiterated his preference on Wednesday for single-nation bids for the 2018 and 2022 World Cups.

Spain and Portugal and the Netherlands and Belgium have both submitted joint bids. England, Russia, Australia, Indonesia, Mexico, Japan, South Korea, Qatar and the U.S are also bidding.

South Korea and Japan jointly hosted the 2002 World Cup but Blatter said FIFA made a decision in 2006 to favour single bids.

"When we gave the 2002 World Cup to South Korea and Japan there were sporting and political reasons to share it," Blatter told reporters in Manchester before attending the Manchester United versus Inter Milan Champions League clash.

"What we found then was that that was not one World Cup in two countries but two World Cups in two countries, two organising committees and twice the expense."

Blatter said that FIFA's executive committee took the decision in 2006 that any joint bids would only be accepted if one or both countries could also stage it alone.

"We applied those criteria for the 2012 bid when Libya and Tunisia entered. That was rejected because there were strong single bids from other countries."

FIFA's secretary general Jerome Valcke confirmed that bids could be changed to single bids up until 2010.

Blatter said England's bid for the World Cup was "very strong" but once again highlighted his concerns about the English Premier League and the influx of foreign players and overseas owners.

"In the past, clubs had a local, regional and national identity, but now that has gone," he said. "In England the clubs don't belong to the fans, they belong to investors.

"There seems to be a lack of balance. The richer clubs are taking all the players, while the others are battling not to challenge for trophies but just avoid relegation.

"We have a problem in that there is a high concentration of the best players in the world playing in the Premier League."