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US promises a very different World Cup

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North American bid leaders Carlos Cordeiro (centre) and the president of the Mexican Football Association Decio de Maria Serrano (2nd L) celebrate after they won the right to host the 2026 World Cup afp

MOSCOW (Reuters) – The World Cup will return to the United States in 2026 and organisers are promising a very different experience.

The United States, Mexico and Canada, won the right to host in 2026 winning a FIFA vote on Wednesday.

While Mexico has hosted the World Cup twice before the US is still viewed as an emerging football nation.

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 grown to 23 teams.

The US national team failed to qualify for Russia 2018, which begins on Thursday, but that was a major surprise for a country that had appeared in every tournament since 1990, reaching the quarter-finals in 2002.

Americans in their thousands watch England’s Premier League, developing a deep knowledge of the sport.

American Sunil Gulati, a FIFA vice-president says visitors in 2026 will find a much more informed public.

“I don’t think there is any doubt that the American public is far more soccer literate whether that is because of the World Cup (in 1994) or the presence of MLS or the presence of international soccer on television and the changes in technology and social media that facilitate all of that,” he said.

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