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USA to focus exclusively on 2022 World Cup bid

Withdrawal from running for 2018 event made official on Friday

NEW YORK – The USA Bid Committee officially announced on Friday that it has withdrawn from the bidding for the 2018 FIFA World Cup and will focus exclusively on securing the 2022 tournament.

The move had been expected for some time, given the fact that it was made clear early on that Europe would likely land the 2018 World Cup. England, Russia and joint bids by Belgium/Netherlands and Spain/Portugal are still in contention for the 2018 event.

The USA joins Australia, Japan, South Korea and Qatar for the right to host the World Cup in 2022. European countries are not in the running given FIFA’s rotational policy under which the same continent cannot host two consecutive World Cup tournaments.

“We are confident this is in the best interests of the USA Bid,” USA Bid Committee chairman and US Soccer president Sunil Gulati said in a statement.

Since the visit by the FIFA inspection team in September, public comments by members of the USA Bid Committee indicated that the USA could opt to concentrate on the 2022 bid.

The timing of the announcement will help the FIFA Executive Committee iron out the procedural details for the final voting process at a meeting on Oct. 28 in Zürich, Switzerland. The final vote takes place on Dec. 2, when the winning bids for the 2018 and 2022 tournaments are announced.

“The announcement today by the USA Bid to focus solely on the 2022 FIFA World Cup is therefore a welcome gesture which is much appreciated by FIFA,” FIFA secretary general Jérôme Valcke said in a statement.