South Korea calls for Asia to back 2022 bid

SEOUL, Nov 22 (Reuters) - South Korea have launched an attempt to rally Asia around its 2022 World Cup bid, claiming it will boost political stability in the region.

FIFA vice president Chung Mong-joon will lobby Japan, Australia and Qatar in order to help consolidate the continent's chances, South Korea's Yonhap news agency reported on Monday.

Soccer's governing body will select the hosts for the 2018 and 2022 World Cups on December 2. The United States are also in the running and currently the bookmakers' favourites.

Under FIFA's voting system, the winner is decided when one country achieves a majority, and Chung said he wanted South Korea's Asian rivals to give assurances they will back his country should they make an early exit from the voting process.

"Four nations in the Asia region are competing... so votes could be divided," former Korea Football Association (KFA) president Chung told a news conference.

"Over the next 10 days, we will attempt to build solidarity in Asia and then move on to the next stage in which South Korea will be named the host."

Chung was poised to fly to Kuala Lumpur later on Monday to seek the backing of the Asian Football Confederation (AFC), whose president Mohamed Bin Hammam will support his native Qatar.

The outspoken Chung claimed FIFA president Sepp Blatter had given his support to South Korea, World Cup co-hosts with Japan in 2002.

"(Blatter) stressed repeatedly that South Korea's hosting of the World Cup will contribute to peace in northeast Asia", Chung was quoted as saying.

"If the 2022 World Cup were to be held in the world's only remaining divided nation, this would best fit FIFA's ideals," he told Yonhap.

North Korea qualified for the World Cup finals for only the second time at this year's tournament in South Africa but were bundled out in the group stage.

Political tensions on the Korean peninsula were heightened again over the weekend after revelations North Korea was making rapid advances in uranium enrichment.