May 14, 2010 - Zurich, SCHWEIZ SUISSE SVIZZERA SWITZERLAND - epa02157140 Sunil Gulati, President of the US Soccer Federation USSF and Bid Chairman, left, Carlos Bocanegra, Captain of the US Men's National Team, centre, and FIFA President Joseph S. Blatter, rechts, pose during the handover of the USA bid to host the FIFA soccer World Cup 2018/2022 in Zurich, Switzerland, 14 May 2010.

Logically considered, I can conceive of no way that the United States is left out as a host for one of the two World Cup bids being awarded in December. We have new, large stadiums, a burgeoning interest in the game, a television network committed to the sport, and a domestic league that will be into it's third decade by then. Most things considered, the American bid is irresistibly strong.

Only this is FIFA, and things like stadiums already built, hotel rooms in abundance, attendance guaranteed to be staggering, and the various other check marks the U.S. has in its column might not mean as much as we think. Even foregoing the usual FIFA-is-corrupt discussion to point out that at least some of the voting will swing due to envelopes stuffed with cash, we can't put it past FIFA to simply deny the U.S. out of spite.

I won't claim there's some grand anti-American conspiracy in the halls of FIFA, but I certainly believe there are some who would rather not see the U.S. become a true footballing nation. Plucky team with mild national interest is acceptable; soccer mad with an ever improving global standing might be more than some can take. Whether another World Cup here would put the U.S. over the top in the former category is debatable, but it would certainly help. 1994 was the dark ages, so the effect of that tournament was muted. Now that we've entered an age of greater enlightenment, there's not telling how much wider the net could get.

There was a time when I was positive that 2022, considering that the 2018 bid seems to be off the table for any country not in Europe, would be the second glorious coming of the World Cup to America. Now I'm not so sure. Australia has problems, but won't be going anywhere as a candidate as far as I can tell. Many are buying into the massive cash reserves of Qatar. The sense that FIFA, and specifically good old Sepp, will push the voting towards a "new" country, i.e. a new frontier for the game, is nagging. The Americans could have the strongest bid on paper and it might not mean a thing.

All this being said, I won't be surprised if U.S. is passed over. Nor will it be the end of the world; while it would be nice to have the tournament here, and it would push the sport to new heights as a spectator sport in the U.S. at a more rapid clip, failure wouldn't preclude soccer from growing. Selfish reasons are the only ones I can come up with for why I want my country to have a second bite of the apple. The U.S. National Team playing on American soil twelve years from now, presumably better and deeper, might have a legitimate shot at a glory.

There's a glimmer of hope, in part because the U.S. bid does appear to be so strong and no one really knows what's being said, promised, and distributed behind closed doors. In twelve years I will be over forty, my son will be fourteen, and I can think of nothing better than taking him to a match or two in his home country. I may feel it right that it happen, but that doesn't mean we're entitled to it.

There's no handicapping this race, and there's no fleshing out FIFA's process. American TV numbers prove the country cares, and everything else is lined up; I even trust that Sunil Gulati and company are doing everything they can to swing votes their way. I'm just a little short on faith that logic matters.

Still, it doesn't hurt to sign the petition.
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