World Cup 2010 - Dutch offer free bikes at 2018 World Cup

Fri, 14 May 14:38:00 2010

Ruud Gullit promised the greenest World Cup ever, including two million free bicycles for fans, if Netherlands and Belgium win the right to stage either the 2018 or 2022 World Cups.

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The two-nation delegation, which also included Johan Cruyff and former Belgium international Paul van Himst, emphasised their point by arriving at FIFA headquarters on bicycles for the bid handover ceremony.

Australia kicked off proceedings in which the nine candidates handed over the so-called 'bid book', a document of more than a thousand pages containing details of their plans for hosting the event, to FIFA president Sepp Blatter.

They were followed by England, with David Beckham presenting the document to Blatter, and Netherlands/Belgium.

FIFA will decide the hosts for both tournaments on December 2 and it is widely expected that the 2018 competition will go to a European country.

Australia, England, Japan, Netherlands/Belgium, Russia, Spain/Portugal and the United States are bidding for the 2018 or 2022 finals while Qatar and South Korea are bidding for the finals in 2022 only.

Blatter said that joint bids would be treated with the same consideration as single bids.

"We will not make a difference if there is a combined bid or a single bid," said Blatter, who in the past has been quoted as saying that bids with two nations were less likely to be successful.

Most delegations turned up in limousines but the Dutch and Belgians, led by former Netherlands and AC Milan forward Gullit, made a more unorthodox entry.

"It will be the greenest World Cup ever with an environment protection plan the world has never seen before," said Gullit, who is president of the bid.

"The games will be played in 14 truly green stadiums. The compactness of our countries is a great asset, due to the short distance the next game is never far away and we will offer the fans a network of free public transport and two million free bikes.

"In the Low Countries, everyone can go to the stadiums by bike, just like we arrived this morning."

Beckham emphasised England's passion for football and the country's cultural diversity.

"Football runs through our veins," he told Blatter in his speech. "We are all brought up on it.

"As a player nothing could possibly beat playing in front of your own fans in your own country at the World Cup."

Reuters

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