Sydney, June 11(ANI): Australia has emerged as one of the favourites to host the 2022 football World Cup after the Football Federation Australia (FFA) decided to drop the 2018 bid.
FFA Chairman Frank Lowy said that the decision to drop the 2018 bid had been taken "after careful consideration and analysis".
"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," Lowy said.
Lowy and bid chief Ben Buckley both refuted talk of any vote-swapping deal, but a hint of a political scheme behind the decision was the undertone in FIFA Chief Executive Jerome Valcke's statement.
The statement makes clear that the decision was reached after months of negotiation, including talks with European members of the FIFA Executive Committee that will vote to award hosting rights in December.
"The FFA and my office as well as the FIFA president have been in constant dialogue about Australia's bidding intentions since last autumn," The Sydney Morning Herald quoted Valcke's statement, as saying.
"The FFA have displayed an exemplary level of solidarity with Europe and the European bidding nations and were among the very first to enter into an open and constructive dialogue with me after it became apparent that there was a growing movement to stage the 2018 World Cup in Europe."
"Their announcement of today therefore, to henceforth focus solely on bidding for the 2022 World Cup, is a welcome gesture that is much appreciated by FIFA's leadership and executive committee," it added.
Australia will be up against Japan, Qatar and South Korea to host the 2022 event.
The countries that miss out on winning the 2018 bid will also be back in contention. (ANI)