Minnesota soccer fans, players excited for North American FIFA World Cup
After years of bids that ultimately ended in disappointment, the FIFA World Cup is finally coming back to North America.
The announcement Wednesday that the United States, Mexico and Canada were selected to host the 2026 FIFA World Cup was widely celebrated by soccer fans, and is widely viewed as an opportunity to re-energize the sport in America.
"There will be a kid somewhere and this will be an awakening for him [or her]," said Minnesota United Head Coach Adrian Heath. "[They'll discover] the game, the beautiful game."
The United States, of course, missed out on a bid to this year's FIFA World Cup and will have to sit on the sidelines as the rest of the world has its eyes on Russia, but Tuesday's news is at least a temporary respite from the doldrums USA Soccer finds itself in.
"It was just a good celebration of soccer in this country," Kyndra de St. Aubin of the Minnesota United said. "It was just a little bright spot after everyone's been down about not having made it to the World Cup."
After hosting the competition in 1994 Major League Soccer quickly emerged and the league grows with each passing year. Now, as the United States plans to step up to the biggest stage in the sport eight years from now, USA Soccer expects to benefit from the bright spotlight and convert a new generation of homegrown fans that will lead the country to international prominence.
"The business opportunities are massive," said Manny Lagos, the Minnesota United Program Director. "The sporting opportunities will certainly inspire future generations of U.S. soccer fans--and more importantly for me U.S. soccer players who will hopefully be the [stars] of the world someday."