The US just won the right to host the FIFA World Cup. And Sepp Blatter didn't even have to announce it.
Sure, Thursday’s votes for 2018 and 2022 didn't go the Americans’ way. But by FIFA handing the 2022 World Cup to Qatar, it's difficult to imagine the event going back to a country in the Asian Confederation so soon.
And so, ladies and gentlemen, we can announce with a fair degree of certainty that the 2026 World Cup will be coming to the United States. Who cares if American fans have to wait an extra four years? It's in the bag.
China opted on Thursday to publicly confirm its interest in hosting the 2026 World Cup. But even with no real rotational policy in effect anymore, FIFA won't go to the same region. Check out a map – Russia, Qatar and China are roughly in the same part of the world.
The 2022 voting results were made public and they show the US to have finished second. As disappointing as it may have been to lose out to Qatar, where all World Cup stadiums still need to be constructed, the Middle Eastern bid offered FIFA arguably the most unique bid of any ever submitted to the world governing body.
By the time the candidate hosts for the 2026 World Cup come forward, the USA will have a few more state-of-the-art facilities, making it that much tougher to deny the Americans on the next election.
Even more importantly, by then there should be no reason for Landon Donovan and Morgan Freeman to have to persuade the FIFA Executive Committee to believe that the passion for the game exists in the USA. Both referenced it in the final presentation on Wednesday.
US Soccer president Sunil Gulati cited a 50-year plan for developing the game in the US and that FIFA is committed to it. A 2026 World Cup on American soil still very much fits the timeline.
No one doubts that the United States is on the path of becoming an established world soccer power. That process won't end with Thursday's FIFA's announcement. On the contrary, that 2026 World Cup could turn out to be the crowning of new royalty in the soccer hierarchy.