Boon expected for U.S. soccer but no sea change as World Cup 2026 co-hosts

(Reuters) – After winning the right to co-host the 2026 World Cup, U.S. Soccer President Carlos Cordeiro hailed the victory on Wednesday as a ai???lightning rodai??? that will inspire more American children to take Buy combivent respimat online up the sport.

FIFA President Gianni Infantino (R) delivers a speech after the presentations of the bids to host the 2026 FIFA World Cup during the 68th FIFA Congress in Moscow, Russia June 13, 2018. REUTERS/Sergei Karpukhin

ai???We believe that soccer … will become the preeminent sport in North America and I am not just speaking for the U.S.,ai??? Cordeiro told a conference call after FIFAai??i??s Congress voted for the United States, Canada and Mexicoai??i??s joint bid over Morocco.

But while soccerai??i??s popularity in the United States can expect a boost, it was unlikely to dominate anytime soon, sports experts said.

Soccer has enjoyed a surge in popularity since the United States hosted the sportai??i??s biggest competition in 1994 but it has a long way to go before it surpasses American football, baseball and basketball.

ai???We probably arenai??i??t going to get the large increases in youth soccer participation that we did after 1994,ai??? said Victor Matheson, a specialist in sports economics at the College of the Holy Cross in Massachusetts. He said, however, that he expects 2026 to ai???help continue soccer on its really positive trajectory

Two years after the 1994 tournament, Major League Soccer began with 10 teams and has grown to 23 teams, 20 in the United States and three in Canada. Youth soccer got a bump as participation rates rose to 2.4 million in 1995 from 1.6 million in 1990. Today, that number stands at 4 million.

The United States and Canada did not qualify for this yearai??i??s World Cup, which began on Thursday in Russia. Mexico did and will play its opener against holders Germany on Sunday.

Kids hold an American flag during the national anthems before the Toronto FC play D.C. United in their MLS soccer match, at BMO Field, a venue for the 2026 FIFA World Cup, in Toronto, Ontario, Canada, June 13, 2018. REUTERS/Mark Blinch

The three hosts were all expected to qualify automatically for the 2026 tournament as has been the tradition for host nations.

ai???There is likely to be a small positive impulse from it in terms of soccerai??i??s popularity but itai??i??s not going to be a sea change,ai??? said Andrew Zimbalist, economics professor at Smith College in Northampton, Massachusetts.

The last time the United States staged the World Cup, critics said it would be where to get retin-a micro canada no prescription a failure given perceived lack of interest in the game, with many saying the best players would be virtual unknowns to the American audience.

The tournament, however, proved critics wrong as it went on to set still-standing World Cup records for total attendance (3,587,538) and average attendance per game (68,991).

Companies may be clamoring for sponsorship by 2026, especially since FIFAai??i??s World Cup bidding processes were tainted with a corruption scandal in giving the 2018 tournament to Russia and 2022 to Qatar, sports experts said.

ai???Itai??i??s always hard to forecast eight years out,ai??? said George Belch, a marketing professor at San Diego State University.

ai???But by the time we get to the 2026 World Cup I think the big companies and the big sponsors in the U.S., and perhaps internationally, are going to welcome the opportunity for a somewhat controversy-free World

Reporting by Frank Pingue in Toronto; editing by Grant McCool