We can prove doubters wrong again - Gulati
America's World Cup bid chief Sunil Gulati believes the United States can prove the doubters wrong by winning either the 2018 or 2022 tournament, just as they did in 1994.
US Soccer confirmed last night that it had formally registered its interest with world governing body FIFA in staging simultaneous bids for the next two tournaments up for grabs.
And just as a successful American bid for the 1994 World Cup produced a record-breaking finals that shattered many people's preconceptions about US willingness to embrace the sport, US Soccer president and World Cup Bid Committee chairman Sunil Gulati claims their new bids to host the finals will again confound the sceptics.
"There were a lot of doubters about the World Cup in 1994 and whether we could fill stadiums, but we did that," Gulati said during a US Soccer conference call.
"There were a lot of doubters when we started a professional league, but we did that. There were a lot of doubters about whether we would be around after a few years, and we've done that and now have more people who want to get into our league than we ever had before.
"It'd be hard to say that we've done anything here in the United States but disprove any questions or concerns people had internationally.
"There will be some who will doubt us again I'm sure, but I think the people who were here had an overwhelmingly positive experience and attitude about a World Cup in the United States."
Gulati pointed to attendance figures at USA '94 as proof of the game's popularity in America.
"I think overall, the response (to USA '94) was overwhelmingly positive," Gulati said yesterday.
"We set attendance records at that World Cup that stand today. In overall attendance, we played 12 fewer games than the three successive World Cups and our overall attendance records still hold. I think people had an extraordinary time." Gulati said the advances in the sport made since 1994 made a case for the US bid this time around even more compelling.
"I think it was a great experience for people who came to the United States for the first time, or who had been here before but saw different parts of the country.
"I think they've seen the growth of the game since then with Major League Soccer, a women's professional league and with the success of our teams.
"People have been surprised by a lot of what the United States has done."
Aside from the United States, FIFA has also received initial proposals for the 2018 and 2022 finals from nations including England, Russia, Holland/Belgium/Luxembourg, Spain/Portugal, Mexico, Australia, Indonesia, Japan and Qatar.