From the consistently excellent Steve Goff:
With the FIFA inspection tour complete, U.S. Soccer Federation President Sunil Gulati, head of the American bid to host the 2018 or '22 World Cup, addressed questions about the five-city stop and where things stand in pursuit of the sport's grand event. Some highlights:Conventional wisdom -- as much as anything can be conventional or wise when FIFA is concerned -- is that England or Russia lead the pack for the 2018 bid, given the preference for a European host. I could get behind either one, really. England would make sense as it would be a huge money-maker for FIFA (which is likely the most important thing), the infrastructure will already be there following the 2012 Olympics in London and, if any country was due to host a second World Cup, it would be hard to argue with the birthplace of soccer. Russia, on the other hand, would allow FIFA to throw Europe and its power base a bone after two successive World Cups away from the continent while also keeping with FIFA president Sepp Blatter's push to take the sport's showcase event to new parts of the world.
On the possibility of dropping out of the running for 2018, amid clear indications that FIFA wants it in Europe: "We would certainly listen and have the appropriate conversations with the FIFA president and the UEFA president at the right time. We haven't been asked to withdraw, but I acknowledge, and we have really from the beginning, that there is a sentiment within a number of members [of the FIFA executive committee] that 2018 should be in Europe. If at some point, between now and Dec. 2 [when the hosts are named], we think it is in our best interests to do that, we would make that decision."
If the US withdraws from bidding for the 2018 World Cup, it joins Japan, South Korea, Australia and Qatar in the running for 2022 (since confederations that win hosting rights are disqualified from hosting for the next two cycles). Remember that two-cycle bit as it becomes important. With Europe and South America out of the race, 2022 is all but a stone-cold lock for North America or Asia (Africa hosted in 2010 and, unless Vanuatu makes a late charge, Oceania is out of the mix). Japan and South Korea's odds are slim as they hosted back in 2002, leaving Australia (a strong bid, complicated only by a remote location and schedule/stadium clashes with other sports) and Qatar (a Gulf nation with 1.6 million people and only three of eight planned stadiums in existence) competing with the US. Asian Football Confederation president Mohammad bin Hammam is a Qatari and a close confidant of Blatter, but bringing the World Cup to Qatar would require a volte-face that would stun even Frankie Five Angels.
So who, other than the US, would benefit from Asia missing out on the 2022 World Cup? Everybody's new bestest friend, China!
On China's interest in 2026 impacting the 2022 race, which includes contenders Japan, South Korea, Australia and Qatar: "It is a decision for FIFA to consider all the long-term implications of their decisions. [Of note: If they choose an Asian bid for 2022, China would not be eligible in 2026.] Down the road, China has indicated that it would be interested in hosting a World Cup. How that plays into the decision FIFA may make for 2018 and 2022 remains to be seen, but I don't think anyone would doubt that China would make a great host in the future, especially after what they did with the Olympic Games and the growth and size of the economy."Now, I'm not saying China would at all relish putting one over on Japan and South Korea (it would). However, you might just find relations between the United States Soccer Federation and the Chinese Football Association a good bit warmer than those between their respective governments in the coming years.
Happier news after the break.
Every so often in journalism, you come across a story that just writes itself. This is just such a story.
There's more from YooDub itself. See, kids? Science can fun and good for society at the same time.
Finally, from the only slightly less bizarre Mike Leach, everyone's favorite full-time pirate/part-time football coach has joined the dark side.
Also of note for Nebraska fans -- the Saturday show on the College Sports channel will include Eric Crouch (apparently selling insurance/pools/playground sets/etc. wasn't lucrative enough) and Eddie George, who still refuses to admit he stole Tommie Frazier's Heisman Trophy.
Former Texas Tech head football coach Mike Leach is getting more immersed within the media, according to Tim Gardner of USA Today.
USA Today reports Sirius XM Radio has launched a college sports channel and Mike Leach will host one of its shows. He will be joined in the studio by sports announcer Jack Arute.
Leach also is working as football analyst with the CBS College Sports channel.