A variety of English newspapers are reporting today that the United States Soccer Federation is set to launch a rival bid against England’s Football Association for the 2018 World Cup. This comes as the England national team is set to host the US in a friendly at Wembley later in the day, and four days from a friendly at fellow CONCACAF nation Trinidad & Tobago. The trip to the island nation has been seen as an attempt by the FA to try to get in the good graces of CONCACAF head and FIFA Vice-President Jack Warner ahead of the bidding process.
However, the articles contain an interesting quote from the USSF’s President Sunil Gulati about another subject; the possibility of hosting one of the FA’s own events, the Community Shield, as well as the Premier League’s much talked 39th game. Gulati told reporters “I don’t think the principle is a foolish one. We have to follow Fifa guidance and in the past when countries wanted to play official games in the US we have declined. We have hosted the Italian equivalent of the Community Shield in 1993 and that would be very different to holding a Premier League game. We would consider it. The message about the 39th game was released the wrong way.”
The USSF is scheduled to meet with Premier League officials during their current trip to London. The Italian version of the Community Shield, the Supercoppa Italiana, has been hosted twice in the United States: in 1993 at RFK Stadium and in 2003 at Giants Stadium.
This isn’t the first time the idea of the preseason event being held outside the UK has been talked about, but this does make the United States an interested candidate should such an excursion be made. It also shows that, for all the negativity generated when the plan was first unveiled, the Premier League could still find some national allies in their fight to add international matches to the league’s schedule.