Gullit Appointed President of Holland-Belgium World Cup Bid; Cruyff Named Ambassador

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Gullit was unveiled as president of the bid in Amsterdam on Tuesday morning (Holland-Belgium)
(WFI) Ruud Gullit, captain of the Dutch team that won the 1988 European Championships, was today named as president of the Holland-Belgium bid to stage either the 2018 or 2022 World Cup.

The bid also announced that Johan Cruyff, a three-time European Footballer of the Year, and Dutch and Belgium football greats Marco van Basten, Clarence Seedorf, Eric Gerets, Dennis Bergkamp, Michel Preud'homme and Manchester United keeper Edwin van der Sar have joined as ambassadors.

Ahmed Hassan, captain of the Egyptian national team which won the Africa Cup of Nations title in Angola last month, was also unveiled as an ambassador.

Gullit, FIFA World Player of the Year in 1987 and 1989, was appointed to the to the most important position within the organization by the bid board "in recognition of his vast football knowledge and enormous international appeal”. In the coming months, he will lead bid delegations on overseas trips to promote the campaign. FIFA decides the host countries for the 2018 and 2022 tournaments on Dec. 2.

He was unveiled at a press conference in Amsterdam this morning before taking a hi-speed train to Brussels for a briefing with Belgian journalists. Gullit will appear on Belgian and Dutch TV tonight.

The 47-year-old’s appointment strengthens the Holland-Belgium bid in its quest to stage the 2018 World Cup, which is expected to head to Europe. Bids from England, Russia and Spain-Portugal provide the competition.

The former Los Angeles Galaxy manager, who won the European Cup with AC Milan in 1989 and 1990,
Johan Cruyff, a three-time European Footballer of the Year, is one of the bid's new ambassadors (Getty Images)
is well-connected in world football. He has already become a key figure in Holland-Belgium’s international campaign following his work with the bid at Soccerex Convention in Johannesburg and at the FIFA Bidding Country Expo in Cape Town in December.

“With his reputation and enormous international appeal, Ruud Gullit’s appointment is of great significance for our candidacy," said Harry Been, CEO of Holland-Belgium bid.

“Ruud has a tremendous football background and knowledge that we believe can be a great advantage for the bid.

“During the official presentation of the candidacy to the world’s press in Cape Town in December last year, Ruud proved himself a great ambassador.

"He believes in our chances and is fully behind our bid message of ‘Together for Great Goals’, which shows how a World Cup in our countries can be of value to the rest of the world," Been added.

The current list of international footballers supporting the candidacy includes: Marco van Basten, Dennis Bergkamp, Regi Blinker, Gilles de Bilde, Frank de Boer, Hans van Breukelen, Jan Ceulemans, Phillip Cocu, Johan Cruyff, Eric Gerets, Georges Grün, Paul van Himst, Pierre van Hooijdonk, Rene van de Kerkhof, Willy van de Kerkhof and Patrick Kluivert.

New recruit Ahmed Hassan played for RSC Anderlecht in Belgium for three years. He has won three consecutive Africa Cup of Nations titles and 172 caps for Egypt. Hassan said he sees the joint candidacy of Belgium and the Netherlands as a strong demonstration of the role that both countries play in world football.

Other bid ambassadors already announced include Belgian cycle legend Eddy Merckx, Olympic swimming champion Pieter van den Hoogenband, 2010 Australian Open finalist Justine Henin, captain of the Dutch women’s football team Daphne Koster, and Belgian Olympic medallist Kim Gevaert.


Written by Mark Bisson (mark@worldfootballinsider.com)
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