The 2014 World Cup is officially under way, but it was the 2022 World Cup that had people abuzz earlier this week. On Thursday, ESPN Deportes radio host Jorge Ramos tweeted that FIFA had spoken with the United States about potentially preparing a plan to host the 2022 World Cup. The Middle Eastern nation of Qatar won the bidding process in 2010, but allegations of bribery have some thinking FIFA might change the location.
An American official was quick to deny the report, and the original tweet has since been removed. However, the vehemence with which the official denied the report has led some to believe this could be a possibility. SB Nation's Ryan Rosenblatt covers American soccer, and he put together some helpful thoughts on the subject. This is a process that could take months or even years to sort through. The US could still end up with the 2022 World Cup, but any decision on that is a ways off.
While we are a ways from that, it would potentially open the door for Levi's Stadium to get in the mix and host a match or two. A United States World Cup would feature matches across the country, with California likely to host at multiple venues. When the United State shosted the 1994 World Cup, the Rose Bowl and Stanford Stadium hosted matches. Six other cities in the midwest and east coast also hosted matches.
Earlier this month, the San Francisco 49ers and San Jose Earthquakes established a formal partnership to bring world class soccer to the South Bay. The initial thought has been for international friendlies featuring some of the best teams in the world. However, if the 2022 World Cup is in play, Levi's Stadium would surely be part of any US bidding process.
Where it gets interesting is in dimensions. I was told that Levi's Stadium was built to fit international soccer dimensions, but it sounds like the World Cup might require something a little bigger. Matt Barrows got word yesterday that the field area might need a little bit of "tinkering" to reach World Cup standards.
I'm told that with "a few million dollars" worth of work, the corners in Levi's Stadium can be removed to accommodate a few matches. The 49ers didn't want a wider-than-desired field for a one-time event. But they'd likely concede to a quick facelift if it meant hosting some World Cup matches.
I'd imagine the 49ers would be fine with something like this given the international prestige of the World Cup. It's an NFL stadium, but getting major events like this will almost always be a good thing. The stadium will host Wrestlemania next year, and the Super Bowl the year after. They lost out on bidding in the recent round of college football playoff host sites, but I'd imagine they'll be back in it in future years. This will be a major destination stadium.