Australia World Cup bid "gaining respect"

SYDNEY - Australia's ambitious bid to host the World Cup is rapidly gaining momentum and the respect of the sport's traditional powers, Football Federation Australia (FFA) chief Ben Buckley said.

Once regarded as a backwater for football, Australia have made giant strides in the game in the past few years, qualifying for the 2006 and 2010 World Cups and climbing to 14th place in the world rankings.

The national competition has been completely revamped and Buckley said Australia's bid to host the World Cup in 2018 or 2022 was being treated seriously.

"I think over the course of the last 18 months, two years, we've built up some respect and some credibility," he told a news conference in Sydney.

"I think there's an understanding that Australia has the capacity to host the major FIFA tournament and in particular the capacity to host the biggest event in the world."

Australia are among a dozen countries bidding to stage either the 2018 or 2022 World Cups in a race that has been described as one of the most competitive yet.

Australia are basing their bid on their past experiences hosting major events including the Olympics and the Rugby World Cup and the fact Oceania has never hosted the event.

"We have a large constituent to convince of our credentials, but we continue to do that," Buckley said.

"We're pleased with where we are at but there's a lot more work to do.

"Quite a few stadia require refurbishment and redevelopment, but I have to say we start with a fantastic foundation in place."