U.S. not swayed by Australia's plans
RUSTENBURG, South Africa -- United States Soccer Federation president Sunil Gulati said Saturday that the decision by Football Federation Australia to back out of bidding for the 2018 World Cup and instead focus on 2022 would have no bearing on the USSF's bid to host either tournament.
Speaking just hours before the United States' World Cup opener against England, Gulati said, "Australia's decision doesn't change our thinking at all."
Sentiment is running high within FIFA to name a European country as host for the 2018 World Cup. This movement gained even more momentum Tuesday, when Asian Football Confederation president Mohamed bin Hammam publicly threw his support behind a European host for 2018, even though Australia is part of the Asian confederation.
With bin Hammam also supporting the 2022 bid of his native Qatar, Australia was left with little choice but to change the focus of its bid.
Despite these developments, Gulati insisted the USSF would continue with its efforts to bid for both World Cups. The U.S. is the last non-European country that is still in the running for 2018.
"We've acknowledged that sentiment for a long time," Gulati said about the growing belief that the 2018 World Cup will be held in Europe. "We acknowledged it the day we announced we were bidding for two World Cups, but that hasn't changed our view."
Gulati added that the voting procedures for determining the hosts of both tournaments won't be defined by FIFA until this October.
"If we had any alteration of plans, I don't see why we would be doing anything until we know what the voting procedures will be," he said.
FIFA is scheduled to decide the hosts for both the 2018 and 2022 World Cups at a Dec. 2 meeting of its 24-man executive committee in Zurich.
Jeff Carlisle covers MLS and the USA national team for ESPNsoccernet.