By RON FANFAIR
The United States is bidding to host soccer’s World Cup again in either 2018 or 2022.
Mexico withdrew its bid last September, leaving the United States as the lone contender from the Americas region. The Confederation of North, Central American and Caribbean Associations of Football (CONCACAF) has endorsed the Americans’ bid.
“The United States can count on the full support of CONCACAF,” said the organization’s president, Austin “Jack” Warner, who is a member of the International Football Federation’s (FIFA) 24-person executive committee that will decide the 2018 and 2022 hosts in December 2010.
America last hosted the World Cup in 1994.
Australia, England, Indonesia, Japan, Russia, the Netherlands-Belgium and Spain-Portugal are also bidding to host both World Cups, and Qatar and South Korea for the 2022 finals only. England and Spain are considered the leading contenders to host in 2018 while the U.S. is viewed as a top candidate for 2022.
CONCACAF’s executive committee also decided that Canada, the U.S. and Mexico will play off against the seven Central American nations for five places in the CONCACAF men’s youth championships beginning with 2011. The three North American countries previously received automatic berths for CONCACAF’s Under-17 and Under-20 tournaments. The Caribbean will keep three teams for each eight-team tournament held every other year.
There will be a different format for the Under-17 tournament in 2011 when Mexico hosts the FIFA tournament and receives an automatic berth.
CONCACAF also ended its participation in the Copa Sudamericana and said it will attempt to keep a presence in the Copa Libertadores which is South America’s top club tournament.