Favourites face global battle to host 2018 showpiece

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England will face stiff opposition in their attempt to secure the 2018 World Cup following the decision by the world governing body Fifa to end rotation between continents.

Yesterday the Football Federation Australia chief executive Ben Buckley confirmed that his country intends to bid, while Russia, China, Mexico, the United States, Spain, Japan, Australia and the Benelux states are all considering joining the race.

Buckley said: "We are very serious. We flagged our intention to bid for the World Cup at the earliest possible opportunity and we are delighted that Fifa has decided to abandon the rotation policy.

"Whilst we will be competing with European-based nations and nations from all over the world, we think this will be a better system and a better opportunity for us."

The Japanese Football Association (JFA) president, Saburo Kawabuchi, has revealed discussions would be held over the "possibility" of launching a solo bid. Japan jointly hosted the 2002 event with South Korea, but under JFA proposals released in 2005, they are seeking to host the World Cup by 2050.

However, it has been suggested that Japan's bid will be used as an experimental one with England, Australia and China leading the race to be named hosts.

Germany were yesterday awarded the 2011 women's World Cup. The decision means the tournament will be hosted by the current women's world champions and came as a huge disappointment to the other candidate, Canada.

The G-14 group of clubs has confirmed the identities of 22 other teams that will join them next month to discuss the formation of a new elite grouping. The meeting will be in Brussels on 13-14 November.

As expected, the likes of Seville, Chelsea, Roma, Monaco, Werder Bremen, Benfica and Celtic are set to be part of the organisation. However, a number of names from Eastern Europe, such as Red Star Belgrade, Steaua Bucharest, CSKA Moscow, Dinamo Kiev, Sparta Prague, Wisla Krakow and Levski Sofia will be at the meeting.

Anderlecht, Fenerbahce, Olympiakos, Basle, Maccabi Haifa, Rosenborg, FC Copenhagen and Austria Vienna will also attend.

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