The United States moved one step closer to acquiring the 2003 FIFA Women’s World Cup on Tuesday but at the same time gained an additional rival in its bid to host the 16-nation championship.
Italy joined Australia, Brazil and Sweden in saying that it might be interested in staging the tournament, which FIFA on Saturday took away from China because of the health threat there caused by the SARS virus.
Representatives of U.S. Soccer met for several hours with FIFA officials in Zurich, Switzerland, on Tuesday and left believing they had made progress.
“We thought it went well,” federation spokesman Jim Moorhouse said. “Now we’re going to go back and get them more detail before the week’s out.”
The American presentation was praised by FIFA spokesman Andres Herren, who said the experience the U.S. gained in hosting the 1994 World Cup and the 1999 Women’s World Cup showed.
It had “that kind of professionalism,” he said.
Even so, FIFA will not make a decision until other countries are given a chance to state their case, and that might take until the end of the month.
“It doesn’t help if we make a quick decision and then regret it for the next four months,” Herren told Associated Press. “Clearly, we cannot lay on a lavish fiesta, but there is a commitment from the United States to make it a world-class event.”
In Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, meanwhile, Peter Velappan, the general secretary of the Asian Football Confederation (AFC), threw his support behind the U.S.
“The competition has to go to the best country that can organize it within this short time and ensure crowd support, and the U.S. has proved that it is possible there,” Velappan told AP.
China hosted the inaugural Women’s World Cup in 1991 and FIFA said that it will stage the quadrennial championship again in 2007. Velappan said losing the 2003 tournament -- scheduled for Sept. 23-Oct. 11 -- was a disappointment but not a severe blow.
“Given the totally mysterious and unpredictable situation in China, it was not fair to take a high risk there,” he said. “We agree it is better for this tournament to take place in another country.”