Australia announces World Cup candidature

MELBOURNE - Australia officially joined the race to host either the 2018 or 2022 soccer World Cups on Sunday.

Football Federation Australia (FFA) had earlier indicated they would bid for both tournaments and received a boost last December when the federal government pledged A$45.6 million (US$29.12 million) to help the campaign. The deadline set by world governing body FIFA for bids is Monday, with successful bidders being announced in December 2010.

"We have submitted Australia's expression of interest in hosting either the 2018 or 2022 FIFA World Cup tournaments," FFA chairman Frank Lowy said in a statement. "We believe this is a passion and commitment that can be shared with the world and it would form part of a living and lasting legacy to the world from Australia.

"The bid will also help the world understand that Australia is a 'can do' country, where important, major events can happen with a minimum of fuss and a minimum of worry."

England, Japan, Qatar, Mexico, Russia and Indonesia have formally declared their interest to stage one of the two tournaments and the U.S. has said it will also join the race.

Spain and Portugal have put forward a joint bid, as have Belgium and Netherlands.