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Wednesday, Dec. 9, 2009

Cabinet OKs move to pursue World Cup

Staff writer

The Cabinet on Tuesday approved Japan's bid to stage the 2018 or 2022 World Cup soccer tournament, saying hosting the global event would not only promote sports and international exchanges but give the public some much-needed upbeat news.

Japan Football Association President Motoaki Inukai, who is leading the charge as committee chief to host the World Cup, is expected to file official papers with FIFA this week.

"The government will do what it can to assist" the bid, Chief Cabinet Secretary Hirofumi Hirano said. Although he said specifics of the assistance have not been determined, the government is expected to lay out what it intends to provide in assistance, including security and transportation, by May.

Eight countries are currently expected to bid for the 2018 World Cup and 10 for the 2022 tournament, according to the Japanese association.

Japan's rivals for both the 2018 and 2022 events will include England, Australia, Russia and the United States. Belgium and the Netherlands, and Portugal and Spain, are launching joint bids. Indonesia, South Korea and Qatar are looking to host the 2022 version.

FIFA will announce the host of the two World Cups in December 2010.

Although Japan hopes to become the first Asian country to host the World Cup twice, analysts say winning the bid won't be easy.

Many believe Japan's chances of being selected took a blow after Tokyo in October failed to secure the 2016 Summer Olympic Games. That failure erased a plan to build a 100,000-seat stadium on Tokyo's waterfront, where the JFA had hoped to stage the World Cup finals.

Japan cohosted the World Cup with South Korea in 2002, which some say could also work against the bid.

The 2010 World Cup will kick off next June in South Africa, and the 2014 matches will be played in Brazil.

Osaka stadium

Kyodo News

The Japan Football Association is considering building a soccer stadium in the middle of Osaka as part of Japan's bid to host the 2018 or 2022 World Cup, according to association officials.

The area north of JR Osaka Station in the Umeda district in Kita Ward, which used to be a big train yard and now sits idle, is a candidate site for the 80,000-seat stadium, the officials said.

A senior Osaka official, however, said the city is in no position to allocate taxpayers' money for the stadium project, citing the municipal government's dire financial straits.

The funding issue will likely remain a major problem because the central government has no plans to finance building infrastructure, including soccer stadiums.

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The Japan Times

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