Thorpe backs OZ bid for 2018 cup

SYDNEY - Australian swimming great Ian Thorpe has thrown his support behind his country's bid to host the football World Cup, saying yesterday it would be "huge for Australia".

SYDNEY - Australian swimming great Ian Thorpe has thrown his support behind his country's bid to host the football World Cup, saying yesterday it would be "huge for Australia".

Australia hopes to hold the World Cup in 2018 or 2022, arguing that it would consolidate the growth of the sport in Asia.

"It would be huge for Australia as the whole country would be showcased to the rest of the world," Thorpe said. "Also, economically we would receive a great benefit."

Thorpe, a five-time Olympic gold medallist from the Sydney and Athens Games who announced his retirement from swimming in November 2006, said Australians understood this after hosting the 2000 Olympics.

"But many would not realise what hosting a Fifa World Cup means to the entire nation," he said. "It would strengthen our position in key markets in our time zone and tourism would go through the roof."

Australia is one of nine bidders for 2018, with 11 in the race for 2022. The decision on both will be made in December. - Sapa-AFP

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