A FIFA delegation wrapped up its whirlwind tour of the United States on Thursday saying they’d seen a number of “excellent” potential World Cup venues.
The United States is vying to host either the 2018 or 2022 World Cup, and FIFA will vote on both on December 2.
The inspectors, led by Chilean federation president Harold Mayne-Nicholls, visited New York, the White House, Miami and Dallas before concluding the tour at Reliant Stadium in Houston.
“All the stadiums we have visited, with some very small adjustments, would be great World Cup venues,” Mayne-Nicholls said. “There is no doubt about that.
“We have seen a number of excellent locations. All requirements and expectations should be met.”
Sunil Gulati, head of US Soccer and of the bid committee, said that he believes a World Cup in the United States would set records for attendance and international visitors.
The total of 3.6 million fans drawn by the 1994 World Cup in the United States is still a record, and Gulati said the American bid wasn’t diminished by the fact that the country has hosted the World Cup before.
“I don’t think hosting a successful event and setting multiple records should be a disadvantage,” Gulati said. “It will have been 28 years, if it’s 2022. Clearly, that’s an issue for some, going out to new and uncharted water, but we think there’s some advantages.
“FIFA knows we can do this, we’ve done it well, and we can do it again.”
Gulati said a successful bid needed more than sparkling stadiums.
“We have a terrific infrastructure, but in the end, it’s not about having the infrastructure and having top-level stadiums,” Gulati said. “It’s about convincing 24 people that’s in the best long-term interest of the sport to come to the United States, and that’s what we’ve been doing for some period of time.”
The stop in Houston included a meeting with Bob McNair, the owner of the NFL’s Houston Texans, who open their season at Reliant Stadium on Sunday.
On Thursday the field was set up for football – as it was when it hosted the Major League Soccer All-Star game in July.
The venue has lured big crowds for international matches, many involving teams from Mexico.
The MLS All-Star game, with the All-Stars taking on English Premiership giants Manchester United, drew 70,728.
Europe is thought to have the edge in the race for the 2018 World Cup, with bids in from the United States, England, Russia, Spain-Portugal and Belgium-Netherlands.
Bids for 2022 have been received from Australia, England, the Netherlands/Belgium, Japan, South Korea, Qatar, Russia, Spain/Portugal and the United States.
The next World Cup will take place in Brazil in 2014.
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