Uruguay centenary World Cup dream on track

MONTEVIDEO, Oct 4 (Reuters) - Uruguay have a dream of staging the World Cup with neighbours Argentina and believe it has every chance of becoming reality in 2030, 100 years after they hosted the inaugural tournament.

The idea has the support of FIFA president Sepp Blatter and Uruguay has an ideal stadium as one of the main venues, Uruguayan Football Association (AUF) president Sebastian Bauza told Reuters.

Bauza also said the South American Football Confederation (Conmebol) hoped to retain the same number of qualifying berths at the 2014 finals in Brazil as they have had in recent World Cups.

"We had the chance to talk with Blatter (in Bogota) and at the news conference he said he approved of Uruguay and Argentina organising the World Cup in 2030," Bauza said.

Blatter and Bauza were in Bogota for Colombia's official presentation of next year's Under-20 World Cup.

Bauza said Europe was likely to get the 2018 World Cup, the United States in 2022 and Asia in 2026.

"So it's already on track... For Uruguay, to be able to organise the World Cup again would be very important," added Bauza in an interview on his return from the Colombian capital.

"As things stand today, with 20 years to go, we imagine having the possibility of staging the opening or closing (final) match and have the Uruguay group venue plus a second round or quarter-final matches in the Centenario.


"Only yesterday, I spoke to the minister of Sport and told him this is a project that can be confirmed so we must start work at once," said Bauza.

"The government's support is fundamental and to start investing thinking of the World Cup."

Bauza said there were already plans to modernise the Centenario, the main venue for the 13-nation inaugural finals. The stadium held the first World Cup final when Uruguay beat Argentina 4-2 in 1930.

Asked whether a second venue could also be in Uruguay, a much smaller country than Argentina, Bauza said Rivera, a Copa America venue in 1995, would be a popular choice for Brazil being on the border between the two countries.

"One could have a venue in Rivera which is on the border with Brazil with Brazil playing there if they qualify... It would be very important for the Brazilians to have a venue in Rivera."

The finals now have 32 teams with the FIFA confederations jostling for berths.

South America, the smallest confederation with only 10 members but almost on a par with Europe in terms of World Cup success, had four and a half places for the last finals, the half allowing a fifth team to play off against a country from another confederation.


That is how Uruguay qualified for South Africa this year, beating the Concacaf 's Costa Rica after finishing fifth in the South American qualifiers before becoming the region's best side by reaching the semi-finals in July.

The Conmebol, headed by Paraguayan Nicolas Leoz, wants to keep that number in addition to Brazil automatically qualifying as hosts, which could end up handing the region six finalists.

"What the Conmebol is saying is we want the berths respected as they were for the Asian World Cup organised by Korea/Japan, as they were respected in Germany with their 13 (European) places plus Germany's berth and as the five (African) places were respected in South Africa plus the place for South Africa.

"In Brazil it must be the same, respect the four and a half berths plus Brazil (already) qualified," said Bauza.

"We're asking for the same thing as in the last World Cups. This will be discussed in the FIFA congress in December but the truth is it would be an injustice to lose the half berth."