Rudd: FIFA congress 'ideal chance' to showcase bid

May 20, 2008

SYDNEY, May 20 (Reuters) - FIFA's annual congress in Sydney next week would be the ideal opportunity for Australia to showcase itself for its 2018 World Cup bid, Prime Minister Kevin Rudd said on Tuesday.

Rudd was speaking at an event in Sydney ahead of soccer's world governing body's congress on May 29-30 and the Socceroos' World Cup qualification programme in June.

Australia's women's team play Canada before the men play Ghana in a double-header in Sydney on Friday then the Socceroos embark on four 2010 World Cup qualifiers in June.

'When you see what a stupendous country this is and how good the facilities are, and I hope through their engagement with government, they will understand how serious we are about this,' Rudd told local media.

'When we say we are going to put on a major world sporting event, we get on with the business of putting it on.

'We don't leave anything to risk.

'That is what I will convey to the FIFA team.'

The government has already committed to helping Football Federation Australia (FFA) with funding for the bid.

Rudd said he did not underestimate the lobbying and work needed to secure the world's largest single sport event.

'It is going to be as tough as hell,' he added.

'But our approach is you've got to be in it to win it.

'If we're to take this code to the next level in Australia and secure the 2018 World Cup, it means putting our shoulder well and truly to the wheel.

'But if we can pull off the 2018 World Cup, I think it will take the sport through the roof.'