Australia drops out of race to host 2018 World Cup

10:44, June 11, 2010      

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Australia has pulled out of the race to host the 2018 World Cup, and will instead focus on the 2022 tournament, Australia's local media reported on Friday.

The announcement by FIFA and the Football Federation Australia left the U.S. running against four European bids: Belgium- Netherlands, England, Russia and Spain-Portugal, for the 2018 tournament.

"The Football Federation Australia (FFA) ... were among the very first to enter into an open and constructive dialogue with me after it became apparent that there was a growing movement to stage the 2018 World Cup in Europe," FIFA general secretary Jerome Valcke told The Australian Online.

"Their announcement of today therefore, to henceforth focus solely on bidding for the 2022 World Cup, is a welcome gesture that is much appreciated by FIFA's leadership and executive committee."

FFA chairman Frank Lowy said the Australians have been in contact with FIFA for months about withdrawing from 2018.

The decision was a reversal from Lowy's comments on Wednesday, when he said Australia would push ahead for 2018 despite Asian Football Confederation (AFC) president Mohammad bin Hammam officially throwing his organization's support behind Europe instead of one of its own members, Australia.

Asked to comment on Bin Hammam's snub on Wednesday, Lowy said: "He's said what he has said. He is my boss. We are bidding."

Bin Hammam said on Tuesday that individual FIFA executive committee members from Asia would not have to follow the official AFC stance.

"It will be an open bid and everybody is free to support anyone, " Bin Hammam said.

"But our support is for Europe when it comes to 2018. The mood inside the FIFA executive committee is that Europe should host the 2018 version."

Europe last hosted the World Cup in Germany in 2006, and following this year's tournament in South Africa, the 2014 competition will be in Brazil.

For the 2022 tournament, Australia will be up against the five bidders for 2018 as well as Japan, Qatar and South Korea.

FIFA's 24-man executive committee will decide the host of both events in December.

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