Spain and Portugal announce joint World Cup bid

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The Independent Football

Spain and Portugal have formally agreed to submit a joint bid to rival England's for the 2018 World Cup.

The combined bid has been mooted for more than a year and was finally confirmed two weeks ago.

Portugal's football federation president Gilberto Madail and his Spanish counterpart Angel Maria Villar Llona signed an official agreement in Lisbon today.

Fifa have issued a deadline of 2 February for letters of interest to be submitted.

Madail told Portuguese news agency Lusa: "This is an important day, the day we decide to go ahead and present a bid to Fifa."

Spain and Portugal will be tough rivals for England as they can expect full support from the three South American representatives on Fifa's 24-man executive committee who will make the decision in December 2011.

Other countries bidding are Australia, and another joint bid from Belgium/Holland. Russia, China, Qatar, the United States and Japan may also enter the contest for 2018 or 2022.

Fifa's executive committee announced last month there would be a simultaneous bidding process for the 2018 and 2022 tournaments.