England's 2018 bid hopes have been dealt a blow after it was reported that South America's three FIFA members will all vote for Spain/Portugal next week.
Although they had been expected to vote for the Iberian bid this is the first confirmation - and England international president David Dein has visited Paraguay this week in the hope of persuading at least one, Nicolas Leoz, to back England.
The South American position was confirmed by their federation CONMEBOL's general secretary Eduardo Deluca, according to reports.
It confirms Spain/Portugal's status as the new pace-setters for the 2018 World Cup and explains why bid chief executive Miguel Angel Lopez claimed they already have as many as eight of the 22 FIFA votes in the bag.
England look to be up against it as things stand, with perhaps only four first-round votes to count on. They would have to hope to beat Russia and Holland/Belgium and then bring those votes on board to beat Spain/Portugal in the vote in Zurich on December 2.
Meanwhile, Sebastian Coe has insisted England's bid team can overcome any negative impact from the Panorama expose of FIFA.
Coe, who succeeded in bringing the 2012 Olympic Games to London five years ago, urged the country's delegates to bombard the world governing body's executive committee with positive messages in the build-up to next Thursday's decision in order to counter any fallout from the programme three days earlier.
The planned Monday Panorama broadcast is expected to make allegations of corruption against people involved with FIFA, something unlikely to go down well with the organisation's members.
Coe, who had to deal with the fallout from Panorama allegations made against the IOC when he was bidding to bring the Olympics to London, told Press Association Sport: "You have to focus absolutely on the job at hand.
"(Outside) noises are not what is going to get you across the line; they're not going to stop you getting across the line.
"It is really a very important discipline in the process of a bid to just simply focus on the messages.
"You deliver those messages right to the moment where there is nowhere else to go and you maintain clear heads."Reuse content