FIFA has acknowledged that Brazil has withdrawn as one of the candidates to organise the World Cup in the year 2006.

Brazil’s withdrawal was announced at a media conference in Rio de Janeiro, and communicated officially to FIFA by the President of the Brazilian Football Confederation, Ricardo Teixeira, who is also a member of the FIFA Executive Committee.

It leaves four candidates to contest the campaign : England, Germany, Morocco and South Africa. The decision will be taken by the 24-man Executive Committee in Zurich this Thursday.

“The announcement from Brazil was not entirely unexpected in view of reports that had been circulating in recent weeks, but now the information is officially confirmed” said FIFA President Joseph S. Blatter. “No doubt Brazil has very specific reasons for taking this step, about which we shall be informed in due course.

“We have always made it clear that any candidate may revoke its candidature at any time,” added Blatter. “At no time has any pressure been brought to bear on any national association to present or renounce its wish to organise the World Cup, and there are no sanctions foreseen for such a late withdrawal.”

The FIFA Statutes entitle any of the national associations affiliated to FIFA to bid to stage the World Cup, apart from those in the continent that had held the previous edition. In 2002, the FIFA World Cup will be held jointly in Japan and South Korea, thus excluding any Asian bids for 2006. Egypt, Ghana and Nigeria had all withdrawn from the 2006 campaign before an earlier deadline to do so.

In his editorial in the current edition of FIFA News, President Blatter reflected on the possible need to revise the bidding procedure for the World Cup finals in future, perhaps with a system of preliminary eliminations of some candidates before the final phase of the campaign.