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"Land of football boot" to host 2014 World Cup

Fifa President Blatter (right) hands over the World Cup to Brazilian President Lula

(Keystone)

Brazil has been awarded the 2014 World Cup finals by the Swiss-based world football governing body (Fifa).

President Luis Inacio Lula da Silva, who was handed the trophy at Fifa headquarters in Zurich, also met Swiss President Micheline Calmy-Rey to discuss plans for closer cooperation between the two countries.

"The executive committee has decided unanimously to give the responsibility, not the right, to organise Fifa's World Cup 2014 to the country Brazil," said Fifa president, Sepp Blatter of Switzerland.

It is the first time since 1950 that the privilege has been bestowed on the Latin American country that calls itself "the land of the football boot".

A football World Cup tournament is considered the world's biggest sports event. Brazil, which have won the Cup a record five times, were the only candidate.

Passion

Lula, who had flown to Zurich for the event, said football was not only a sport for the Brazilians.

"It is a national passion. If everything works out well, we will win once again a World Cup," Lula said.

The Brazilian football federation said the country would do everything to show the world it is capable of hosting the event.

"Over the next few years we will have a consistent influx of investments. The 2014 World Cup will enable Brazil to have a modern infrastructure," federation president Ricardo Teixeira said.

The construction and remodelling of the stadiums will require an investment of about $1.1 billion (SFr1.3 billion). Brazil has ten of the world's largest football stadiums.

Fifa also named Germany as the host country of the 2011 women's World Cup.

Partnership

In another development, Brazil and Switzerland have agreed to step up cooperation following talks between the presidents of both countries in Zurich earlier on Tuesday.

Calmy-Rey said a strategic partnership included regular consultations on political issues with a view to coordinate bilateral relations, notably on trade, energy, science and technology.

"Relations between Switzerland and Brazil are good," Calmy-Rey said. However, she added a free trade agreement was still a long way off.

She said both countries would examine ways of increasing cooperation in the fight against human trafficking and drug smuggling.

Other areas of increased cooperation include international humanitarian law, human rights, environmental issues as well as combating poverty.

For his part, Lula described relations with Switzerland as "long-standing and deep-rooted". He pledged to return to Switzerland next year for further talks.

On Monday Calmy-Rey and Swiss Economics Minister Doris Leuthard held talks with the Brazilian foreign minister, Celso Amorim.

They launched a joint economic committee aimed at boosting bilateral trade relations and direct investments.

swissinfo with agencies

In brief

The next football World Cup will be held in South Africa in 2010.

The tournament is held every four years.

The current holders Italy won the title at the 2006 World Cup in Germany.

Brazil is the fifth country to host two World Cups following Mexico (1970 and 1986), France (1938 and 1998), Germany (1974 and 2006) and Italy (1934 and 1990).

Brazil is the only country to have played in all 18 Wold Cup final tournaments.

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