FIFA have welcomed the news that the United States have pulled out of the race to stage the 2018 World Cup.
It means that a European nation will definitely host the event in 2018 following Australia’s withdrawal in June.
FIFA secretary general Jerome Valcke, echoing comments he made at the time of the Australian decision, said: “We have had an open and constructive dialogue with the USA bid for some time now, after it became apparent that there was a growing movement to stage the 2018 FIFA World Cup in Europe.
“The announcement by the USA bid to focus solely on the 2022 FIFA World Cup is therefore a welcome gesture which is much appreciated by FIFA.”
And that in turn means England will no longer stake a claim for the 2022 event, instead focusing all their attentions on the tournament in eight years’ time.
England’s is one of four European bids for 2018 and is up against Russia and joint bids by Belgium/Holland and Spain/Portugal.
With FIFA statutes preventing two successive World Cups being held in the same continent, the race for the 2022 tournament will now be between Australia, Japan, South Korea, Qatar and the USA.
A statement from the England bid team read: “England 2018/22 today confirmed to FIFA that it was withdrawing its candidature from the FIFA World Cup 2022 and will now focus on its bid to host the tournament in 2018.
“This followed consultation with UEFA president Michel Platini on the most appropriate moment to withdraw.
“England 2018 is delighted it is now clear the FIFA World Cup will be coming to Europe in 2018 following the withdrawal of the United States bid.”
The 2018 bid continued yesterday with British Prime Minister David Cameron meeting his Trinidad and Tobago counterpart Kamla Persad-Bissessar to canvas support.
Mrs Persad-Bissessar is a political ally of FIFA vice-president Jack Warner, who is a member of her cabinet as well as head of the north and central American football federation CONCACAF.
With CONCACAF wielding three votes on FIFA’s executive committee, Mr Warner will be an influential voice when the 2018 hosts are chosen on December 2.