Headlines

Indonesia joins race to
host 2018, 2022 World Cup

The Indonesian football federation officially expressed interest in staging one of the tournaments to FIFA late Tuesday, becoming the sixth potential host to show interest ahead of Monday's deadline.

England, Japan, Qatar, Russia and a joint Spain-Portugal candidacy have already declared intentions to bid.

Other contenders including Australia, a combined Belgium-Netherlands-Luxembourg proposal, Canada, China, Mexico and the United States are expected to enter the first stage of a two-year selection process before the cutoff.

Though its team is currently No. 14 in the FIFA world rankings, Indonesia fulfills one major requirement of hosting the world's most-watched sports event - it has a stadium capable of holding at least 80,000 spectators for th opening match and final.

The government-owned Bung Karno Stadium in the capital Jakarta has a capacity of 88,000 and staged the 2007 Asian Cup final, when Iraq beat Saudi Arabia 1-0.

Indonesia has previously made World Cup history.

It became the first Asian nation to play at a World Cup, at the 138 tournament in France under its colonial name of the Dutch East Indies. The team lost 6-0 to eventual runner-up Hungary in a first-round match at Reims.

Indonesia was quickly knocked out of qualifying for the 2010 World Cup being played in South Africa. It advanced through the Asian first round when oppoent Guam withdrew, then lost 11-1 to Syria in a two-legged series in November 2007.

FIFA began the process of choosing the 2018 and 2022 World Cup hosts two weeks ago. It will issue official bid forms next month, which must be returned by March 16.

Candidates capable of providing around 12 stadiums eac holding at least 40,000 fans can apply for either the 2018 or the 2022 tournament, or for both.

FIFA said no South American country can apply for either tournament because Brazil is hosting the 2014 edition. African countries can bid only for the 2022 event because South Africa is hosting next year.

The hosts will be chosen by FIFA's 24-man executive committee in December 2010.

If successful, Indonesia would be the second World Cup host from Asia. The 2002 tournament was played in Japan and South Korea.

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