Football's world governing body, FIFA, has decided that the 2014 World Cup will be held in South America. The sport's premier event, staged every four years, has not been hosted by a South American country since 1978 when it was in Argentina.

FIFA president Sepp Blatter said the decision followed a recommendation of a strategic studies commission, which he heads. He said this fulfills a "long time wish" of the South American football confederation (CONMEBOL).

The 2006 World Cup will take place in Germany and the 2010 event is slated for Africa, where it has never been held before. Six countries are bidding. They are South Africa, Egypt, Libya, Morocco, Nigeria and Tunisia. The winner will be chosen in May of 2004.

When FIFA decided last year to award the 2010 World Cup finals to an African nation, officials said that the move was not meant to be part of a precedent-setting policy of rotation.

Blatter said the South American football confereration has asked the executive committee to expand the 2006 World Cup to 36 national teams instead of the current plan of 32. A decision is expected May 3.