x Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 21 January 2018

Japan withdraw from 2018 World Cup bid

Officials decide to shift focus to 2012 after Fifa president Blatter hints that the case is strong for an European country to get it.

TOKYO // Japan has pulled out of bidding for the 2018 World Cup, electing instead to focus on competing for the 2022 event. Japan initially put itself forward as a candidate to stage either of the World Cups but has opted to only bid for the 2022 World Cup following meetings with Fifa. The Japan Football Association president Motoaki Inukai told Sports Hochi newspaper it appeared Fifa are intent on staging the 2018 World Cup in Europe. Japan co-hosted the 2002 World Cup with South Korea. Fifa are voting on December 2 on who will host the 2018 and 2022 World Cups. Inukai and Japan's sports minister Tatsuo Kawabata met with Fifa president Sepp Blatter in Zurich on Monday. "President Blatter told us that European countries would be battling it out for 2018 and that it would be a wiser choice to go for 2022," Kawabata was quoted as saying. Inukai said he would make a formal announcement after explaining the move at a bidding committee meeting on May 11. The current bidders for either of 2018 or 2022 are: England, Russia, the United States, Australia plus joint bids from Spain-Portugal and Netherlands-Belgium. Qatar, South Korea and now Japan are only in the 2022 race. * Reuters