Australia have pulled out of bidding for the 2018 World Cup after failing to win the support of the Asian Football Confederation.
"It became apparent that there was a growing movement to stage the 2018 World Cup in Europe," said FIFA secretary general Jerome Valcke. The FFA [Football Federation Australia] has displayed an exemplary level of solidarity with Europe and the European bidding nations.
"Their announcement, therefore, to henceforth focus solely on bidding for the 2022 FIFA World Cup is a welcome gesture that is much appreciated by FIFA leadership and executive committee. We wish to thank the FFA and the Australian government."
Frank Lowy, the FFA's chairman, confirmed the decision to concentrate on 2022. He said: "We have been in discussion with FIFA for months and it is that trusting relationship with the leadership of the governing body that has caused us to focus on 2022 and decide to leave the field for 2018 to European contenders."
The current competition is between England, Russia, and joint bids from Spain/Portugal and Netherlands/Belgium. The USA are also in the race but Valcke and Lowy's comments would suggest their hopes hang by a thread.