FIFA secretary general Jerome Valcke has come out in support of United States Soccer, marveling at the fans and saying the country could bid on the 2026 World Cup.
Valcke, a Frenchman, is the latest force to take notice of the groundswell the 2014 World Cup has had on soccer in America despite Tuesday’s 1-2 loss to Belgium in the Round of 16.
Speaking to Brazil newspaper Globo, Valcke expressed his awe over the excitement in the US:
What we see in the United States is staggering. The audience is unprecedented, more than the NBA.
The country has the largest level of youth soccer in the world, with 20 million young people playing.
I think after 2022, they have an interest in hosting the 2026 World Cup.
Valcke’s statements were echoed by FIFA president, Sepp Blatter, who believed the high level of soccer causing the excitement, noting, “[t]he level of interest in the USA is very high.”
The first and only World Cup hosted by the United States came in 1994, a tournament that saw Brazil crowned champions. Since then the US bid to host the 2022 tournament but lost to Qatar. And while many have their fingers crossed that climate and human rights issues there will result in a possible change of venue stateside, the more feasible scenario is as host in 2026.
US Soccer president Sunil Gulati has previously noted that the United States will only seriously consider going for the 2026 World Cup if the bidding process is “more transparent and fair”.