Holland/Belgium presentation sets high standard

ZURICH - Netherlands and Belgium kicked off World Cup decision day with a highly impressive presentation to FIFA's executive committee - the 22 men who will vote on the destinations of the 2018 and 2022 World Cups later on Thursday.

The joint-bid from the Low Countries is one of four aiming to secure the 2018 finals against rival candidates England, Russia and another joint-bid from Spain and Portugal.

The five countries bidding for the 2022 finals made their presentations on Wednesday.

A self-deprecating video of Dutch coach Guus Hiddink's travels around the world and video trickery which had Dutch and Belgian greats Johann Cruyff, Ruud Gullit and Jean-Marie Pfaff playing in the same team were highlights of the presentation.

More editing tricks made it appear that Cruyff, in a 1970s interview, could tell the future by predicting that the Netherlands would win the European Championship in 1988 captained by Gullit, as they did. He also "predicted" that the World Cup would come to Belgium and the Netherlands in 2018.

Cruyff, Pfaff, Gullit and Belgium's best ever player Paul van Himst were all on stage taking the applause from FIFA delegates as the presentation ended.

Their serious message was that the compact nature of the two countries, two of the founding fathers of FIFA in 1904, would provide a safe, green World Cup with fans able to travel around easily to matches.

Gullit told FIFA: "Our limited size is our real strength, beneficial for players, fans and visitors. The economic power of our country is high, we are in the heart of Europe and our bid is a showcase for joint bids."


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