FIFA president Sepp Blatter expects England to put forward a “strong” bid to host the 2018 World Cup.
The world governing body have confirmed the hosts for the 2018 and 2022 World Cups will be decided at the same time – but have not put any block on countries bidding for both.
At one point it was felt FIFA would state only bids from European countries would be accepted for 2018 – which would have offered a big lift for England, who have already declared their intention to lodge an application.
However, FIFA had started to move away from that position and have now formally decided to accept bids from countries for two competitions at the same time.
It means potential hosts such as Australia and China could go for both.
Europe is still expected to land 2018, but the presence of countries outside UEFA in the bidding process could split a complicated voting structure and potentially squeeze England out.
“England is a strong candidate, because it is a strong country in football,” said Blatter.
“They are strong. But there are other candidates that are strong as well; Spain is also strong – and if you look at all the candidates you see that the fight is open.”
Apart from 1982 hosts Spain, Russia and a joint bid from Belgium, the Netherlands and Luxembourg are also expected – with Australia, Qatar, China, Japan, Mexico, the United States and Canada also hinting at applications.