FIFA Execs Take Note Of American Soccer Interest; Hinting At '26 U.S. World Cup?
FIFA execs have "flagged up a possible American bid" for the '26 World Cup after "the 'staggering' impact of the tournament" in the U.S., according to Martyn Ziegler of the PA. FIFA Secretary General Jerome Valcke told Brazil newspaper Globo, "What we see in the United States is staggering. The audience is unprecedented, more than the NBA." FIFA President Sepp Blatter has "been equally impressed." He said, "It's fantastic -- the level of interest in the USA is very high. This World Cup is really getting under people's skin." U.S. Soccer Federation President Sunil Gulati has previously said that the U.S. "could bid" for the '26 event, but "only if the bidding rules change" (PA, 7/2). But in DC, Marissa Payne wrote the U.S. "might not need to wait" until '26 to host a World Cup, as "talk bubbled up last month about a possible re-vote over the location" of the '22 tournament. It is scheduled to take place in Qatar, but "with accusations of bribery, numerous human rights complaints and news that FIFA 'ignored its own terror alert,' there’s been chatter" that the U.S. "might end up hosting" the event. Whether that is a realistic possibility "might become more clear later this month, however, when FIFA's Ethics Committee has said it will release a report investigating the corruption charges" (WASHINGTONPOST.com, 7/2).
WE'RE NOT GONNA PROTEST: Blatter on Wednesday declared that the World Cup in Brazil "was a success," and said that the "fears of anti-tournament protests had not materialized." Blatter: "I am a very happy man today." The AFP noted the World Cup has "escaped the massive protests that marred last year's warm-up tournament, the Confederations Cup, when hundreds of thousands of people swarmed the streets to denounce" the record $11B spent on hosting the event. The protests "have been much smaller during the World Cup" (AFP, 7/2).
THREE SHEETS TO THE WIND: The AP noted Valcke is "reviving a debate over whether alcohol sales should have been allowed at matches" in this year's World Cup. In an interview with Brazil-based SporTV, Valcke said "maybe there were too many people who were drunk" at the matches. Brazil banned alcohol sales at soccer matches in '03 "in a bid to curb fan violence," but FIFA "insisted Brazil lift the ban in order to host" in '14. Valcke in '12 said that lifting the ban was "non-negotiable," but on Wednesday he "appeared to soften his position" (AP, 7/2).