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SYDNEY (AFP) — Prime Minister Kevin Rudd officially launched Australia’s bid to host the football World Cup in 2018 or 2022.

Rudd told an official ceremony at Parliament House in the national capital Canberra that Football Federation Australia (FFA) had the full backing of the government to bid for the showpiece event.

“The sheer odds are tough against Australia, eight other countries, but the reason the government had got behind the bid is that we as a nation can rise behind this great bid,” Rudd said.aus_worldcup

The premier said the chance to host a World Cup was a great opportunity for the nation.                               

“The challenges are great, but the prize is much greater,” he said.

“I salute those who have had the courage and the initiative and creativity to bring forth this idea.”

English Premier League stars, national skipper Lucas Neill and goalkeeper Mark Schwarzer, also spoke at the launch, urging Australians to throw their support behind the World Cup bid.

FFA chairman Frank Lowy said it would be an “unparalleled opportunity” for Australia to earn official acceptance as a World Cup host.

“On the world stage, there is no event with the same level of global appeal or audience reach as the FIFA World Cup,” the property billionaire said in a statement.

Lowy said Australia?s “secret weapon” for winning the World Cup bid was the Australian people, and Australia’s desirability as a travel destination.

“People from all over the world want to visit our country and thanks to the performance of the Socceroos at the 2006 FIFA World Cup in Germany, as well as the many thousands of Australian fans who followed them, the rest of the world has a very positive view of us.”

Lowy also pointed to Australia’s record of hosting successful major sports events such as the 1956 and 2000 Olympic Games.

Australia are among nine bidders, along with Belgium-Netherlands, England, Indonesia, Japan, Mexico, Portugal-Spain, Russia and the United States, for the 2018 World Cup.

The same nine bidders are also in the running for the 2022 World Cup, along with Qatar and South Korea.

World football governing body FIFA will announce both the 2018 and 2022 World Cup hosts in December 2010.

Australia have already qualified to play in next year’s World Cup in South Africa.

Source  :  www.google.com

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