FIFA assures Australia that it's in the race for World Cup hosting bid

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Melbourne, Dec.2 (ANI): FIFA vice president Jack Warner has assured Australia its bid for hosting the 2018 Football World Cup remains strongly placed.

Warner, a powerful member of the 24-man FIFA executive committee which will decide the 2018 and 2022 tournament hosts in December next year, talked up England's bid on Saturday after meeting with British Prime Minister Gordon Brown.

That was viewed as a significant blow to Australia's hopes despite Warner raising spirits earlier this month when declaring Australia an "excellent chance".

But the CONCACAF president, one of five members of the executive committee meeting in Cape Town ahead of this weekend's 2010 World Cup draw, has reiterated his view that Australians should be "very happy" with their position.

Football Federation Australia have stepped up their bid by announcing Nicole Kidman as the face of their campaign alongside a new promotional video and book.

"I think that you are doing the correct things. I think you're pacing yourself quite well, I think you have a kind of interaction at diverse levels that you should have. Then of course, your whole show is professionally well done," Warner said of Australia's chances to host the event.

"I like the fact that even your ambassador (Kidman), she knew more about the sport even than I had given her credit for and this speaks volumes. You seem to do everything right and I say it again, on an incremental basis and this is what is important. So I think good luck because honestly, your bid campaign is progressing along the lines, if I were an Australian, I'd be happy, very happy," The Age quoted Warner, as saying.

Warner was joined in Cape Town by fellow Executive Committee members Franz Beckenbauer, Mohamed Bin Hammam, Reynald Temarii and Geoff Thompson. Of those, Oceania Football Confederation (OFC) president Temarii is known to have already pledged his vote to Australia's bid - a fact confirmed by OFC General Manager Tai Nicholas.

German legend Beckenbauer, a World Cup winner both as a player and a coach, was also supportive of Australia's bid saying it had a "very realistic" chance.

Australia, England, Belgium and the Netherlands, Portugal and Spain, Indonesia, Japan, Russia and the United States are bidding to host the 2018 finals while Qatar and South Korea will join that group in bidding for 2022. (ANI)

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