England to focus on ’18 WC bid when U.S. withdraws

England will withdraw from the race to host the 2022 World Cup and concentrate on its 2018 bid when the United States formally ends its interest in the earlier tournament.

FIFA, which votes on the hosts of both events in December, is yet to officially declare that 2018 should go to Europe and leave the rest of the field to contest 2022.

England along with the other European bidders Russia, Spain-Portugal and Belgium-Netherlands are still vying for both events as a formality.

The United States is the sole non-European country still contesting both editions, after Australia, Japan, Qatar and South Korea focused their resources on 2022.

The Americans have said they will withdraw from 2018 bidding only if asked to by FIFA or UEFA president Michel Platini.

David Dein, the international president of England’s bid, said on Tuesday he expects that announcement to be imminent.

"We believe, Michel Platini believes, that 2018 should be coming to Europe and we believe that is our strongest case," Dein told a briefing for international journalists on Tuesday. "We are sure it won’t be long before America will withdraw from 2018 leaving themselves a run on 2022.

"Consequently we will almost certainly – it hasn’t come about yet – withdraw from 2022, leaving us with a European battle."

Dein, the former vice chairman of Arsenal, has been spearheading England’s global courting of the 24 FIFA executive committee voters.

At the weekend, Dein was joined by England midfielder David Beckham in Trinidad to see CONCACAF President Jack Warner as well as FIFA President Sepp Blatter.

"We have been in six countries in the last 13 days and we desperately want to win the right to stage the World Cup," Dein said.

He will embark on another round of trips to see the 24 voters again before December’s vote to persuade them to award the World Cup to England for the first time since 1966.