NEW YORK – The USA Bid Committee officially announced on Friday that it has withdrawn from the bidding for the 2018 FIFA World Cup and will focus exclusively on securing the 2022 tournament.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 U.S. Soccer President Sunil Gulati said in a statement.
“The Philadelphia World Cup Bid Committee wholeheartedly supports the decision of the USA Bid Committee to withdraw from the 2018 FIFA World Cup™ process and focus exclusively on the 2022 campaign," added Philadelphia Mayor Michael A. Nutter, who is a Co-Chair of Philadelphia’s World Cup Bid Committee. "We are confident that this decision is in the best interest of Philadelphia and the other U.S. finalist cities working to bring the World Cup back to America. All of our regional partners remain fully committed to ensuring that, in 2022, ‘The Game is in Philadelphia.’”
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 October 28 in Zurich, Switzerland. The final vote takes place on December 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.