Whereas soccer had an almost parochial presence in this country before the 1994 World Cup, it suddenly grew into a national game. There was pressure for change. Why don’t we have a national league? Why isn’t our program good enough to qualify for every World Cup? And so on and so forth. If we land the United 2026 bid (and I use “we” as guiltlessly as perhaps I’ve ever used the term in talking sports), the stakes of the questions will change, too. Why don’t we have one of the best teams in the world every edition? Why shouldn’t we set the expectations at semifinals or bust, especially with such a truly talented crop of youngsters?
This may be a lazy comparison, but this is also how corporate America works: competition, competition, competition. You don’t need to manufacture a certain product until you see another company manufacturing that product and consumers devouring it at an insane clip. If USA ‘94 gave birth to soccer in America, it’s not only time for that kid to start walking, it’s time for it to start sprinting. The four-year (and maybe eight-year) hype associated with bringing the World Cup back to our shores, even if we share a few random early games with Mexico and Canada, would establish irrepressible momentum in my mind.
That would be the engine of MLS spending more, and not just on older stars who may or may not have something to offer. The Ezequiel Barco signings wouldn’t be the exception, they’d be the expectation. Improve or fall behind. The great Wright Thompson once said, and I’m paraphrasing here, “If you ever want to see what’s hot in the stock market, just go to the Kentucky Derby.” And what he meant was that the ultra-rich horse owners knew growth markets when they saw them, so not only did they stable one or two of the 20 best horses in the world, they had their hands in everything else that’s value was skyrocketing. Imagine those people behind the soccer infrastructure in this country. It can be that way. We just have to get the World Cup bid to prove it.
Doug McIntyre: I was going to answer Henry’s question here, but I couldn’t have said it any better than Joey. There’s no question, at least to me, that the impact of hosting a World Cup is greater than the value of merely participating in one. Knowing that the biggest event ever staged — remember, 2026 will (probably) be the first World Cup with 48 teams — is coming here eight years in advance changes the calculus for those most invested in the sport, as Joey points out.
I think we all agree that the soccer has plenty room to grow in the U.S. and Canada. It doesn’t take a ton of imagination to see MLS’s next TV deal, should Wednesday’s vote go in favor of the United Bid, dwarf the $90 million per season the league currently gets from ESPN, Fox and Univision, or for the domestic league, which now spends about 20-percent of its revenues on salaries, bumping that up closer to the 50-percent plus threshold that we see in some of world’s top circuits as well as other North American sports leagues like the NBA and NHL. I’ve often said that if MLS paid the sort of wages the NHL does, it would be the best soccer league in the world. There’s admittedly a bit of hyperbole there, but that certainly would go a long way toward closing the gap. It will happen eventually. Getting the World Cup would only accelerate that process.
Leander Schaerlaeckens: It’s corny when the media writes about the media, but I think that’s another major factor here. I think we’re at a point where the major sports media outlets are all paying attention to soccer pretty consistently. That’s a fairly new development. In fact, it was only just over a decade ago — when David Beckham arrived stateside — that Yahoo hired its first soccer writer. And now, well, there are a half dozen of us.
But the national media isn’t the variable here. I think hosting another World Cup would multiply the amount of attention paid to soccer by the local media in the various markets vying and then preparing to be a host city. And there’s still real value in that. It would bring soccer into new households more regularly. Whereas now your local station or paper might do a few quick panicky sections or articles on a local player with World Cup ties just before the tournament every year, an effort to become a host city would be a major story over the course of several years.
I don’t think you can underestimate the impact here.
More soccer from Yahoo Sports:
Source : https://sports.yahoo.com/fc-yahoo-mixer-important-united-states-host-2026-world-cup-151519254.html?src=rss1992