US to be very dif­fer­ent host from 1994

The Sun (Malaysia) - - FRONT PAGE -

THE World Cup will re­turn to the United States, 32 years af­ter the ground­break­ing first tour­na­ment in the coun­try, and organisers are promis­ing a very dif­fer­ent ex­pe­ri­ence for fans trav­el­ling to the coun­try.

The 1994 World Cup in the US set sur­viv­ing records for at­ten­dance fig­ures thanks to the large, mostly NFL, sta­di­ums that were used, but those who trav­elled to the tour­na­ment noted that the lo­cal pop­u­la­tions were of­ten not fully in­formed about the sport.

That will not be the case in eight years time.

Two years af­ter the 1994 tour­na­ment, Ma­jor League Soc­cer was launched and the com­pe­ti­tion has sub­se­quently grown to 23 teams, with clubs in all re­gions of the coun­try and Canada.

The US na­tional team failed to qual­ify for Rus­sia 2018 but that was a ma­jor sur­prise for a coun­try that had ap­peared in ev­ery tour­na­ment since 1990, reach­ing the quar­ter­fi­nals in 2002.

Per­haps most cru­cially, Amer­i­cans are no longer iso­lated from the world game and thou­sands of them watch Eu­rope’s Cham­pi­ons League and Eng­land’s Pre­mier League, de­vel­op­ing a knowl­edge of the sport and its great­est tal­ents.

“I don’t think there is any doubt that the Amer­i­can public is far more foot­ball lit­er­ate whether that is be­cause of the World Cup (in 1994) or the pres­ence of MLS or the pres­ence of in­ter­na­tional foot­ball on tele­vi­sion and the changes in tech­nol­ogy and so­cial me­dia that fa­cil­i­tate all of that,” he Su­nil Gu­lati, a FIFA vice-pres­i­dent said.“Peo­ple are far more lit­er­ate, far more knowl­edge­able and far more en­gaged. That part is great,” he added.

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