A joint World Cup bid by Belgium and the Netherlands to host either the 2018 or 2022 tournament will be considered by FIFA after all.

FIFA president Sepp Blatter said Monday that Belgian and Dutch officials assured him that their co-hosting candidacy would be run via a single organizing committee, not like the 2002 Japan-South Korea tournament, which posed a headache for football's governing body.

Blatter's comments appeared to reverse skeptical statements he made earlier this year, when he said joint bids will lose out in favor of a strong proposal from a solo host.

"After the World Cup 2002, the executive committee took a decision: never again a double candidature because it was absolutely wrong," Blatter said.

He said the way that tournament was run, with two organizing committees, different languages and budgets, made it too complex and cumbersome. But he said the Dutch-Belgian bid "is totally different," adding the bid was also a "sympathetic" one.

"The candidature like the Netherlands and Belgium shall be accepted because we have the evidence that there is only one organizing committee," Blatter said.

The two countries previously co-hosted the 2000 European Championship, which was considered a success.

Blatter and other senior FIFA officials were invited for talks with Belgian Prime Minister Herman Van Rompuy and King Albert II at the royal palace on Monday to discuss the bid. Bid committee co-chair Alain Courtois said the candidacy "will answer all FIFA criteria."

Along with 10 other bids, Belgium and the Netherlands want to host either the 2018 or 2022 World Cup. On top of about $1.42 billion for up to a dozen stadiums, the nations would also have to improve public access through airport and highway upgrades.

Belgium, with 10 million people, and the Netherlands, with 16.5 million, are counting on a sympathy vote of other small nations worldwide to clinch the right to organize the World Cup.

Blatter said the bid from the two was welcome "because we want to show that the World Cup can still be held in smaller countries."

He also welcomed a similar co-hosting bid submitted by Spain and Portugal, but Blatter said he had not yet visited Madrid or Lisbon to get a briefing on how they plan to organize their bid. A meeting in Spain is planned for October, Blatter said.

FIFA secretary general Jerome Valcke said he was examining all 11 preliminary bids, which also include applications by the United States, England and Russia. All candidates will have to submit a full bid book by next May.

The hosts will be chosen by the 24-member FIFA executive committee in December 2010.