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By ESPN Staff

Colombia launch surprise 2014 World Cup bid

RIO DE JANEIRO, July 17 (Reuters) - The South American Football Confederation (CSF) was unaware of a Colombian bid to host the World Cup finals in 2014, a spokesman said on Monday.

Nestor Benitez said the CSF still considered Brazil to be their only candidate to host the tournament in eight years time, due to be staged in South America under FIFA's new rotation system.

'Brazil is unquestionably the only candidate for the 2014 World Cup,' he told Reuters by telephone from the CSF's headquarters in Asuncion.

Colombia president Alvaro Uribe said in a speech on Saturday evening that his country wanted to stage the tournament in the future, although he did not give any details.

Colombia was awarded the 1986 finals but pulled out less than two years before the tournament was due to be staged claiming financial difficulties. Mexico stepped in and held the competition for the second time in 16 years.

The 10 members of the South American confederation voted in 2003 to back Brazil as their only candidate for the 2014 World Cup.

However, Brazil, who have won the World Cup five times but only hosted it once in 1950, would still have to meet FIFA's standards to be awarded the event.

'If Colombia wanted to bid for the World Cup, it would have to come through the Colombian federation,' said Benitez, adding no such bid had been made.

In Bogota, the Colombian federation would not comment on Uribe's speech.

With the 2006 finals just completed in Germany, the 2010 finals are set for South Africa, the first on African soil.

FIFA are expected to announce the host nation for the 2014 finals in the summer or autumn of 2008.