While the United States’ result in the 2014 FIFA World Cup was identical to their 2010 result, losing in extra time in the Round of 16, soccer has never had the momentum that it has right now in the USA. Jurgen Klinsmann has changed the culture in the USA’s soccer program, and the country can’t be laughed at anymore at the world’s most popular tournament. They’re a threat to any team on any given day. While they are still far away from being a World Cup winner, they’re definitely heading in the right direction.
Back to what’s going on off the pitch, though; many Americans took an interest in the Yanks’ World Cup appearance. ESPN touted the highest ratings they’ve ever had for a World Cup, with over 18 million viewers watching their 2-2 draw with Portugal, and over 16 million watching their heartbreaking 2-1 loss to Belgium in extra time. Take into account the Portugal game was on a Sunday, while the Belgium matchup was on a Tuesday afternoon. Univision had five million viewers themselves.
The United States should be a prime target for FIFA to hold another World Cup. The 2018 World Cup has gone to Russia, while Qatar controversially won the bid for the 2022 World Cup, although it is a possibility they could be stripped of the tournament. That’s another discussion. Assuming that goes on, the United States’ target will be the 2026 World Cup, 32 years after they last hosted in 1994. It should be a no-brainer for FIFA to go back to America and here are the reasons why.
6) Guaranteed success
Say what you want about the United States; do you really think they would screw up in hosting a sports event?
The country is home to the Super Bowl every year, watched by over 100 million people in the US alone, they have the World Series, BCS National Championship and many sports events watched by tens of millions of people. They have this covered.
If they were to host the World Cup, they’d know how to market it and they have an ever expanding industry in sports media.
ESPN currently covers the World Cup, and if the nation were to host it, many news outlets would jump all over it, including FOX, NBC, CBS and of course ESPN’s parent channel, ABC, would hold its ground.
The country also happens to have a population of 314 million people. Why would FIFA not want a World Cup in a market that big? Within that collective market, holds many big markets. They could tackle the New York area, California itself has over 38 million people, Florida, Texas, etc…
They also have the track record proving they would do an excellent job with the World Cup. The 1994 tournament was the highest attended in World Cup history, even though it was just a 24-team tournament at the time. The total attendance came in at 3.6 million.
If FIFA wants the safest and most lucrative option, it’s the USA.
5) Multicultural Country
FIFA has been preaching tolerance, respecting other countries, saying no to racism, etc… While the United States is not perfect in these departments, it still is one of the most tolerant nations in the world. It is also a multicultural one, with Hispanics, Latinos, African Americans and Asian Americans all standing under one nation.
This would send a positive message to the rest of the world under the platform of a World Cup tournament, a tournament that should be set as a prime example of tolerance and respect.
The 2012 Euro Cup gave us a reminder of the ongoing racism that exists in eastern Europe. The United States has its share of bad apples, but its sports fans are used to seeing players of all races and religions as they’ve seen many black, latino and Asian players in sports like baseball, basketball or football.
4) USA’s 250th Birthday
It just so happens that in 2026, the United States will be celebrating its 250th birthday as a country. The 2026 calendar also shows that it’s possible for the World Cup final to be played on the 4th of July weekend, the 4th being a Saturday. Wouldn’t that be a phenomenal way for the USA to showcase itself?
On its 250th birthday, the whole world is watching them host the World Cup and in style.
Think of the whole nation stopping on its biggest day, to watch the world’s most popular sport, especially if their team is strong enough to make it as far as July in a World Cup tournament.
3) Ideal Weather Conditions
This year’s World Cup in Brazil was the first time that FIFA began using cooling breaks during a game, due to Brazilian weather being Brazilian weather. The scorching, humid conditions will be nothing though, compared to the 2022 World Cup should it be held in Qatar.
The weather in Qatar could reach up to 50 degrees Celsius, making it downright unplayable in those conditions. FIFA President Sepp Blatter has talked about the possibility of the World Cup being played in January, but that makes no sense at all. It would interfere with club’s schedules, and the Winter Olympics fall on World Cup years. Once again it shows just how fishy handing the World Cup to Qatar was.
In the United States, the temperature and conditions vary greatly from region to region in the country. Obviously, you wouldn’t want a game to take place outdoors in Arizona or Nevada in the summer, but you have coastal temperatures in California, and manageable temperatures in the north east, and midwest markets.
In 1994, the World Cup knockout games were played in East Rutherford New Jersey, Foxborough, Dallas, Washington, Chicago and Palo Alto. You have your pick of the litter wherever you want to go.
2) Little Financial Burden on the Country
The Brazilian government inexplicably spent $15 billion to host the 2014 World Cup, all for FIFA to reap the profits. Brazilians have been understandably livid with the financial burden it has placed on the country.
Building stadiums, all for them to hold a few soccer games, then leave empty?
The United States wouldn’t have this problem. They wouldn’t have to build a single stadium nor make any major renovations to their stadiums.
There are 32 NFL stadiums and an endless supply of college football stadiums to choose from, most of which meet the ideal conditions to host a World Cup soccer game.
This means Americans wouldn’t have to shell out taxpayer money to build new stadiums. Finding hotels and methods of transportation wouldn’t be a problem either.
The only real debate would be where to hold the final. AT&T Stadium, home of the Dallas Cowboys holds over 100,000 which FIFA would surely love for a final site, and the home of the Cowboys is as American as it gets.
However, a case can be made for Metlife Stadium, home of the Giants and Jets, Levi’s Stadium, home of the 49ers and even Gillette Stadium, home of the New England Patriots. You’d almost have to hold a second bid to determine who would host the final World Cup game.
1) Growing the Game in the USA
Is it possible to make the world’s most popular sport any bigger? A sports which sees its biggest tournament get over a billion viewers every four years? It’s quite difficult, but it’s not impossible. The key is growing it in the countries with the world’s largest populations.
The United States fits the bill and as mentioned above, the World Cup ratings were higher than ever this year when the Yanks took the field. Those numbers will surely be surpassed in the 2018 World Cup and then again in the 2022 tournament. Who knows how big the sport will be in America by 2026?
The way for soccer to take the next big step in America is for the country to host another World Cup. The United States soccer program is going well, and it’s quite possible they will be contenders in 2026. Think of how enthusiastic the nation would get.
Soccer is the easiest of any of the major sports in which to participate. You need cleats, a ball and a net to shoot at when you’re playing. Football gets expensive easily, as does baseball.
This 2014 World Cup likely introduced the sport on a grand stage to so many kids around the United States. Those kids will be coming of age by 2026 and if this tournament captured their imagination in the way the media portrayed it, then they very well will want to start playing and spike up registration. So many kids can be motivated by the goal of representing their country when the nation hosts the World Cup in 12 years from now.
Don’t forget how much the MLS has grown as well since the United States last hosted the World Cup. It was founded in December of 1993, coinciding with the country getting the World Cup. The league has now seen David Beckham, Thierry Henry and Alessandro Nesta play for them and Frank Lampard and David Villa will join them soon. The United States will only get more exposure as a hotbed for soccer and will help its cause to host very soon.
With all the controversy FIFA has gone through, going back to the United States for a World Cup would give them a fresh change of pace. It only seems to be a matter of when they go back and when they do, it’ll prove to be a great decision.