[WORLD CUP 2018] Barring unforeseen problems with the organization of the 2010 and 2014 World Cups, slated to be held in South Africa and Brazil, respectively, the next chance for the United States to host the World Cup will come in 2018.
U.S. Soccer president Sunil Gulati recently told a media roundtable that U.S. Soccer would make a decision by June about whether to enter the 2018 bid contest that is expected to include such countries as England and Australia.
Even in the face of heavyweight competition, the U.S. potential is substantial. "We
have 50 stadiums that could host World Cup games two days from now," boasted Gulati.
Gulati is convinced the United States has the stadiums, roads and hotels to organize a World Cup. U.S. Soccer's board of directors has authorized a World Cup organizing committee to bid.
"We are going to make a decision by June 1," he said. "Maybe it gets pushed back a few weeks later because of the FIFA Congress that's at the end of May, but that's our timetable on whether we're going to bid or not. We don't need to make a decision for quite some time. The bid specifications won't be out until next year. But we're quite convinced that whatever those specifications say, we'd be in a position very quickly to meet the technical requirements."
Gulati outlined the stadium possibilities in 2018.
"The good news by then Dallas will have a 90,000-seat stadium," he said. "New York will have a brand-new 80,000 stadium. The one in Boston will still be there. Fed Ex [in suburban Washington] will be there and there'll be a new one on top of that. And I can go right around the country."
The construction of huge football stadiums has continued for more than a decade; the good news is that most of them have been built to accommodate soccer, unlike most of the major stadiums built in the pre-World Cup '94 era whose fields were too narrow for international soccer requirements.
"What I said to the guys at FIFA," added Gulati, "we could have hosted the World Cup in 1998 and not used any of the stadium that existed in 1994. We could have done the exact same thing in 2002, and 2006."
The 1994 World Cup in the United States averaged a record 68,991 fans a game.
"We still own the record for most spectators at the World Cup, with fewer games, with 20 percent fewer games," said Gulati. "France didn't come close. Germany didn't come close. South Africa won't come close. Brazil won't come close, Maracana in or out."
Gulati acknowledges American football's might.
"The NFL is just a phenomenal enterprise in this case," Gulati said. "It is great to have football stadiums that are unused in the summer. We've got 50 or 60 -- college stadiums as well, obviously."