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By ESPN Staff

USA bid chief finds defeat hard to take

The head of the United States World Cup bid team admitted Thursday's defeat to Qatar in the race to host the tournament in 2022 was "very difficult to take".

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The U.S., who hosted the World Cup in 1994, lost out to Qatar in the vote at FIFA's headquarters in Zurich, with bids from Australia, Korea and Japan also failing to sufficiently impress the voting executives.

The U.S. had been considered a front-runner to host the World Cup in 12 years' time, but the momentum swung firmly to Qatar in recent weeks and the emirate lived up to its favourite's tag heading into the vote.

US Soccer president Sunil Gulati told "There's no way around it: I am disappointed. Millions of U.S. soccer fans worked hard to bring the World Cup to our country. To come up short is very difficult to take."

Gulati nevertheless paid tribute to the weight of support the bid had received from football fans in the U.S.

"In the face of this disappointment, we shouldn't lose track of all that we achieved," he said. "During the past two years, the outpouring of support for soccer in the United States has been inspiring and historic. More than one million people signed on to our bid, and more than 100 million [in the US] watched last summer's World Cup.

"Thanks to your efforts, the game is stronger than ever in our country, and it will continue to grow stronger. There's no question that you've helped make a lasting impact on soccer in the United States. The entire country - and the entire world - took notice.

"Even though our Bid did not win, the future of soccer is bright in the United States."

The US managed to take Qatar to a fourth round of votes after Australia were eliminated at the first hurdle, while Japan and Korea followed suit in rounds two and three.

Qatar enjoyed a five-vote advantage over the US after the third round, and although Korea's elimination freed up five further votes, the US only picked up two of those as the emirate outscored the American bid 14-8 in the final round to secure a majority.

The US bid was a predictably high-profile affair, with Gulati joined by former US President Bill Clinton and actor Morgan Freeman in the final charm assault on the FIFA executives.

US Attorney General Eric Holder was also present, as was Los Angeles Galaxy forward Landon Donovan and former US women's international Mia Hamm.

But it fell to President Barack Obama to fully articulate the American take on the outcome, telling reporters: "I think it was the wrong decision.''


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