The USA captain Carlos Bocanegra hands over their bid book in Zurich in May (Getty)

(WFI)The USA has withdrawn from the running for the race to host the 2018 World Cup finals and will instead focus on the 2022 campaign.

The decision follows four months of speculation after Australia’s withdrawal from the race for 2018 in June left them as the only non-European candidate. Holland-Belgium, England, Russia and Spain-Portugal remain in the running for 2018.

Last week USA bid chairman Sunil Gulati said in London that his team were not planning on withdrawing from the race for 2018 and that the earlier year represented “CONCACAF’s turn.”

Privately his bid team have acknowledged that their withdrawal was a formality and that they were waiting for the most opportune time.

England have immediately withdrawn from the race for 2022 with a pull out considered a formality for the other three European candidates, as FIFA rules prevent confederations hosting consecutive finals. The 2022 campaign will now effectively be between Australia, Japan, Korea, Qatar and the USA.

“For some time we have been in conversations with FIFA and UEFA about the possibility of focusing only on the 2022 bidding process, an option we have made reference to many times,” said USA Bid Committee chairman Sunil Gulati in a statement.

“We are confident this is in the best interests of the USA Bid.”

“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 of 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”, added FIFA Secretary General Jérôme Valcke.

The FIFA Executive Committee will meet in Zurich in a fortnight to discuss the voting process for the selection of the host nations for the 2018 and 2022 FIFA World Cups.

“We wanted to make the announcement now – still 48 days before the final decision – in order to make our intentions clear during the last part of our campaign. This also enables FIFA to finalize the selection procedures during its upcoming scheduled Executive Committee meeting,” added Gulati.

England 2018 said that their decision to pull out of the running for 2022 “followed consultation with UEFA President Michel Platini on the most appropriate moment to withdraw.”

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