WORLD CUP: So … is 2022 a go?

If the World Cup is returning to the Rose Bowl -- or coming to one of the proposed NFL stadiums, in Industry and downtown -- it’s going to be in 2022, not 2018.

U.S. Soccer’s World Cup bid committee on Friday officially conceded the 2018 tournament to Europe, which looks a lot like a backroom-deal kind of thing and clearly improves the chances of the vote on 2022 going our way. If those chances needed improving, that is.

It’s been clear all along that the 2018 World Cup is going to Europe, and U.S. Soccer president (and bid committee chairman) Sunil Gulati acknowledged that over the summer when he said the U.S. would back off from 2018 if FIFA or UEFA asked for that.

FIFA Secretary General Jerome Valcke called the move “a welcome gesture which is much appreciated by FIFA,” and Gulati said the bid committee was “confident this is in the best interests of the USA Bid.”

This guarantees Europe will get the 2018 Cup -- England is the favorite, and Russia and joint entries Spain/Portugal and Netherlands/Belgium also are in the running -- and England responded by pulling out of the 2022 process. Both World Cups will be awarded by FIFA’s Executive Committee on Dec. 2 in Zurich.

The primary competition for 2022 is Australia. Also bidding are 2002 co-hosts Japan and South Korea, unlikely to get the World Cup so soon after staging one, and Qatar, which failed to impress FIFA inspectors during their visit last month.