US could host 2026 football World Cup

Washington: The USA football team may have lost in the pre-quarterfinals but it evoked "unprecedented" appetite for the game in the country that could see it bid for the 2026 World Cup, according to media reports.

The Jurgen Klinsmann-coached Americans were knocked out of the 2014 World Cup by Belgium on Tuesday.

However, the level of support for the team has been remarkable, with US President Barack Obama among those tweeting support.

"There is a commitment to work with US Soccer," FIFA Secretary General Jerome Valcke was quoted as saying by Brazilian newspaper Globo.

"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," he said.

"I think after 2022, they have an interest in hosting the 2026 World Cup," Valcke said.

FIFA president Sepp Blatter was quoted by the BBC as saying: "The level of interest in the USA is very high. This World Cup is really getting under people`s skin - the quality of the football is incredible."

US Soccer president and FIFA executive committee member Sunil Gulati has previously said the United States could bid to host the 2026 tournament, but only if bidding rules change.

The US, who previously hosted the World Cup in 1994, lost out to Qatar for the 2022 tournament.

The 1994 World Cup was the highest in terms of audience with average attendances of nearly 69,000.

After advancing from a tough group also containing Germany, Portugal and Ghana, the US took Belgium to extra time before eventually being beaten 1-2 in an entertaining match which saw 56 shots on goal.

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