FIFA's Gianni Infantino backs Carlos Cordeiro to address World Cup failure
FIFA president Gianni Infantino has called the United States' absence at the 2018 World Cup "a massive failure," but has backed newly elected United States Soccer Federation president Carlos Cordeiro to address the issues responsible for the team's disastrous qualifying campaign.
The United States failed to qualify for the World Cup for the first time since 1986, which led to calls for radical changes in the organization ahead of the much-anticipated presidential election last weekend.
Cordeiro was elected as the new chief of the USSF despite previously serving as ex-president Sunil Gulati's No. 2, and Infantino expressed confidence he was the man to tackle the big issues going forward.
"It was a massive failure, just like it was, for example, Italy," Infantino told ESPN FC's Gab Marcotti on Wednesday. "But of course it's important for the U.S. as a big country to qualify.
"Carlos will have this challenge to make sure the U.S. qualify. It's more important to bring in a football culture in the whole country from the youth and training of players to the league system that exists.
"There are many challenges that need to be tackled, and Carlos is certainly the man who will look into it."
The United States is hoping to host the 2026 World Cup in a joint bid with Mexico and Canada. The U.S. last staged the game's showpiece event in 1994, which provided a platform for the launch of Major League Soccer.
Asked if hosting the tournament in 2026 was necessary to further grow the sport in the U.S., Infantino said: "I don't think it's necessary. I think the soccer landscape in America is sufficiently mature in itself to be a real challenger.
"As FIFA president I have to care about having challengers to the European associations and leagues. I think in the U.S. there is sufficient power to make sure the clubs and leagues become really strong in itself without the need for a World Cup.
"A World Cup helps in every country to develop infrastructure but the U.S. already has that, to develop the culture of football which is growing in the U.S.
"I think the U.S. will certainly be one of the big players in football in the future along with a few others in the world."
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