Blatter raises prospects of 2018 World Cup in U.S.
FIFA may assign the 2018 World Cup to its North and Central American and Caribbean region, putting the United States in prime position to host soccer's showcase for the second time in 24 years.
Sepp Blatter, the president of soccer's governing body, discussed upcoming World Cups on Wednesday in England before meeting with Treasury Minister Gordon Brown — the man expected to replace Tony Blair as prime minister.
"We have decided in the FIFA executive committee that rotation will be installed, and we have made rotation until and including 2014. The executive committee must take a decision whether the rotation should include all the confederations, in which case the 2018 World Cup should be in CONCACAF," Blatter said.
The United States (1994) and Mexico (1970, 1986) are the only members of the Confederation of North and Central American and Caribbean Football who have hosted World Cups.
Blatter also said it was possible FIFA's executive committee could assign the 2018 tournament to Asia.
"They could also decide that the Americas should be considered as one, and then rotation would go to Asia," he said, adding that China and Australia had indicated they might bid.
The U.S. Soccer Federation's board gave the go-ahead Friday to bid for the tournament. The British government has said it would support a campaign to host the World Cup for the first time since 1966, when England won its only title.
The 2002 tournament was played in Japan and South Korea, last year's edition was played in Germany and the 2010 World Cup is scheduled for South Africa. FIFA said the 2014 tournament will be in South America, and Brazil and Colombia have announced plans to bid. The decision will be made in November, and Brazil is the strong favorite — Blatter called Colombia's bid "more a public relations presentation."
Since England last hosted the tournament, the World Cup has been played in the other four major European soccer countries — Germany (1974, 2006), Spain (1982), Italy (1990) and France (1998). England's Premier League is the most successfully marketed of the European leagues, and several new stadiums have opened in recent years.
Following the Hillsborough stadium tragedy in 1989, when 96 people were crushed to death at a FA Cup semifinal between Liverpool and Nottingham Forest, English soccer has modernized most of its grounds and created all-seat stadiums that have high-tech security and no fences surrounding fields.
"Because of the big disaster in '89 in Sheffield, the government has taken a decision which is now applied everywhere in sports arenas, especially in football, and this shall be an example to everybody around the world," Blatter said.
"Comfort and security are in stadia where everybody is sitting, and if you have no fences and you don't need 200 policemen because you have stewards. If this example had been applied to all other big stadia and big leagues in Europe, some of the big associations in Europe would not be facing the problems they are facing."