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Australia World Cup bid 'at starting line': Blatter

4 October 2010 08:09

SYDNEY (AFP) - FIFA president Sepp Blatter has likened Australia's bid to host the World Cup to a Formula One driver at the starting line "fully fuelled" and ready to go, Prime Minister Julia Gillard said.

Gillard met Blatter in Zurich to discuss Australia hosting the world's biggest sporting event in 2022 on her way to a summit in Brussels.

"I, obviously, urged him to see the merits of Australia's bid for the World Cup," she told reporters in Brussels on Sunday.

"He confirmed to me that Australia's bid had complied with all of the FIFA rules, so we were, in his terminology, like a Formula One driver at the starting line -- the car is fully fuelled and the engine is on.

"Whether we'll win the race, we'll know in December."

But the prime minister, who is on her first overseas trip since becoming Australia's first woman leader in late June, said Blatter was giving little away about her country's chances.

"I suspect that inherent in the job of being president of FIFA is that you're pretty good at holding your cards close to your chest," Gillard said.

"At the end of the day this is a voting structure, and so the votes will come in in December," Gillard said.

Australia is among nine bidders, including fellow Asian Football Federation (AFC) members Japan, South Korea and Qatar, competing to host the 2022 World Cup.

FIFA officials will also weigh up a Netherlands-Belgium bid and ones from Russia, England, Spain-Portugal and the United States before announcing the 2018 and 2022 World Cup hosts on December 2 in Zurich.

Australia is hoping that its past experience in hosting major sporting events -- including the 2000 Olympics, the 2003 Rugby World Cup and the 2006 Commonwealth Games -- will bolster its bid.

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