By Jacopo Lo Monaco
ROME (Reuters) - Italy has set its sights on hosting three major international events -- golf's Ryder Cup in 2022, the rugby World Cup in 2023 and the Olympic Games in 2024.
The Italians on Thursday announced they were lining up a bid for the rugby World Cup backed by Italian prime minister Matteo Renzi and National Olympic Committee (CONI) president Giovanni Malago ahead of the Catholic Jubilee in 2025.
The success of brothers Francesco and Edoardo Molinari has boosted interest in golf in Italy and the president of the sport's Italian federation, Franco Chimenti, is preparing to present an official bid to host the Ryder Cup.
The Molinaris were selected for the 2010 Ryder Cup team that beat the United States in Wales and Francesco won the 1/2 point that allowed Europe to win outright two years later at Medinah.
"It's not as foolish an idea as one might think," Chimenti said referring to Italy's intention to bid. "If we play our cards right we could win this (bidding contest)."
The Marco Simone Golf & Country Club, just outside Rome, has been selected to host the event should the bid succeed.
Italy would face competition from Germany, Turkey, Spain, Denmark, Portugal and Austria to host the biennial event.
The rugby World Cup would provide a great marketing opportunity to promote the game in Italy on the back of the excellent crowds attending Six Nations matches.
Italian rugby federation president Afredo Gavazzi said this week: "I'd like to bring the World Cup to eight cities. Not just Rome and Milan but also in the south, either Palermo or Bari and also, to Genoa, Turin and Florence.
"We could build a few new stadiums or use the ones where soccer matches are played."
Italy would face a difficult task to win the right to host the 2023 rugby World Cup with Ireland having on Friday declared its intention to bid for the tournament.
South Africa, hosts of the hugely symbolic 1995 rugby World Cup, Argentina and France, have also expressed an interest in staging the tournament.
The winning bid will be announced in 2017.
Rome will probably be the candidate city to stage the 2024 Olympics, 64 years after it hosted the Games for the first time. Italy's prime minister Renzi should make it official on Dec. 15.
The Italian capital came close to winning the Games in 2004, losing out to Athens in final voting, while then-prime minister Mario Monti put an end to the 2020 bid for financial reasons.
Rome could be up against cities including Berlin/Hamburg, Budapest, Kiev, Istanbul, a United States city - either Boston, Los Angeles, Washington D.C. or San Francisco -- an African city, possibly Nairobi, Durban, Doha and Paris.
With Italy still in an economic crisis, the government would have to find the money to host the three major events and there is also the question of what long-run benefits they would bring.
(Editing by Ken Ferris)