- Associated Press - Friday, October 15, 2010

ZURICH (AP) - The United States pulled out Friday of the bidding race for the 2018 World Cup, switching its focus to winning the hosting rights for 2022.

The decision, which had been expected, came after “months of careful deliberation” between FIFA, UEFA and the U.S. bid team, said FIFA, soccer’s world governing body.

U.S. bid chairman Sunil Gulati said in a statement that the move is in its “best interests.”

Australia, Japan, Qatar and South Korea are also bidding to stage the 2022 event.

The 2018 World Cup will now be played in Europe, either in England, Russia or the joint bids of Netherlands-Belgium and Spain-Portugal.

With FIFA rules stipulating that successive World Cups cannot be played on the same continent, England responded to the U.S. decision by withdrawing its 2022 bid.

Europe has long been expected to host in 2018 because the 2010 tournament was in South Africa and the 2014 finals are in Brazil.

FIFA will choose both hosts on Dec. 2.

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