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That was the response from Football Federation Australia chief executive Ben Buckley after Qatar announced it was joining the race to host either the 2018 or 2022 World Cup finals.

Oil-rich Qatar’s decision will further complicate Australia’s bid to host the finals, as it could also face competition from Japan and China to be Asia’s representative in the process.

Qatar made its intention known yesterday with a simple release.

“I can confirm that the Qatar football federation has sent a letter to (world governing body) FIFA in which it officially declared its candidacy for the 2018 and 2022 World Cups,” federation secretary general Saud al-Muhanadi said.

Buckley said he had no concerns about Qatar’s entry into the race.

“We welcome any challenge,” Buckley said yesterday. “We are confident we have the ability to present a strong bid to FIFA.”

FFA wants to host the 2018 finals and has been given a $45 million war chest by the federal Government.

The deadline for final bids for 2018 and 2022 is February 2.

Other countries which have officially bid are England; Spain and Portugal in a joint bid; and Belgium and the Netherlands, also in a joint bid.

Others interested include Japan, China, Mexico, the US, Russia and Canada.

FIFA will name the hosts of the 2018 and 2022 World Cups in December 2010.

THE AUSTRALIAN


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