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Feb 20, 2007

United States set to rival England for World Cup

The United States Soccer Foundation (USSF) are planning to launch a bid to host the 2018 World Cup.

The federation are to form an organising committee during their annual meetings in Los Angeles this weekend.

While the aim is to capture the 2018 nomination, the USSF will also market themselves to FIFA as an alternative for the 2014 event if a South American country is not ready.

'We showed in 1994 that the US are capable of hosting a terrific event,' Gulati told the Washington Post.

'Now, with the way the soccer landscape in this country has evolved, we would be in position to put on a spectacular event. We are much more a part of the sport internationally than we were in 1994.'

The US hosted the World Cup in 1994 in what was seen as an attempt to foster football in the last major market where it was not already a primary sport.

The event was a success, setting new World Cup records for the largest average game attendance (68,991), as well as being credited with providing the spark for the creation of Major League Soccer, which launched two years later.

The league has grown tremendously in the years since, and 2007 is poised to be its best yet with the impending arrival of David Beckham in Los Angeles, and the launch of a 13th franchise in the Canadian city of Toronto.

More than half of MLS teams either have or are on the verge of moving into their own stadiums.

However, capacities at these facilities are only around 20,000 in most cases, and the focus of any US bid for the 2018 World Cup will again be the use of NFL stadiums which range from 60-90,000.

New stadia in Seattle, Houston, Detroit and Glendale, as well as forthcoming facilities in Indianapolis and New York, are likely to be the centrepieces of the stadium plan.

In 1994, games were played in American football stadiums in Boston, Chicago, Dallas, Detroit, Los Angeles, New York, Orlando, San Francisco and Washington DC.

'We've got some history and a track record,' said Gulati, who worked on the 1994 bid.

He added that FIFA were 'very open' to a US bid while CONCACAF, the governing body for North and Central America and the Caribbean were 'very positive' about the idea.

Brazil are the current favourites to host the 2014 event, with Colombia the only other country in the running.

A decision is expected from FIFA later this year, but with concerns over whether Brazil would be ready in time, FIFA president Sepp Blatter has hinted it might go elsewhere.

'We have said that the 2014 World Cup will be staged in South America,' he said recently. 'But if there is no candidate strong enough, then we would go north instead as the logical thing.'

Gulati said the USSF are focused on 2018, not 2014, but 'obviously FIFA know what we're capable of and, if something else changed, we would be open to any other possibilities.'

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