United States Soccer Federation president Sunil Gulati denied reports that FIFA contacted the United States on its availability to host the 2022 World Cup if current host Qatar is stripped of the tournament.
"Simply not true," Gulati told the NY Times on Thursday evening. "They haven’t asked us and I cannot imagine it happening anytime soon."
There is an ongoing investigation into allegations of corruption surrounding the country’s successful bid for the tournament in 2010, with results expected next month. FIFA opened the joint bidding for the 2018 and 2022 World Cups in 2009, and scrapped the previous rotation between continents in the process.
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Sunil Gulati, flatly denied FIFA has approached them re: '22 WC. "They haven't asked us and I cannot imagine it happening anytime soon."
The United States Soccer Federation initially planned to bid for the 2018 and 2022 World Cups, but it withdrew its application for 2018 to focus on 2022 a year later. The decision placed the United States in direct competition with Australia, Japan, the Korea Republic and Qatar ahead of the vote in December 2010.
Qatar curried favor with the voting pool and stormed out to a commanding lead in the first round of voting. Qatar eventually landed its hosting rights with a 14-8 victory over the United States bid in the fourth round of voting.
If Qatar is found guilty of the corruption allegations and is forced to relinquish its hosting rights, then the United States would likely emerge as one of the favorites to assume the role. It is thought the United States could stage the World Cup with minimal notice – perhaps stepping into the breach even as quickly as 18 months prior to the event — with its considerable infrastructure.
There’s no lack of stadiums, public transportation or accommodations across the country, and it is one that would be more than willing to step up at the last minute if need be.
Despite Thursday’s report, it is still unknown how FIFA might approach the bidding process if Qatar is stripped of its right to host. But if that happens, and the United States are front-runners in the race to take over the event, there wouldn’t be much worry over its ability to do so.