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Karl-Heinz Rummenigge backs United States for 2026 World Cup

ESPN FC's Herculez Gomez weighs the pros and cons of a 2026 World Cup joint-bid between the U.S., Canada and Mexico.
Gab Marcotti and Shaka Hislop join Outside the Lines and have their say at FIFA expanding the World Cup to 48 teams.
Gab Marcotti joins Outside the Lines to discuss the reasons behind moving the World Cup from 32 to 48 teams in 2026.

European Club Association chairman Karl-Heinz Rummenigge has told Sport Bild the United States would be a good choice to host the 2026 World Cup.

FIFA's decision to expand the 2026 tournament to 48 teams from 32 -- which will see 80 games played rather than the current 64 -- reduced several nations' hopes of hosting a World Cup due to a lack of infrastructure and North America is the strong favourite

CONCACAF general secretary Philippe Moggio said last month that he favours a three-way 2026 World Cup bid with the United States, Mexico and Canada, but Rummenigge -- who has been strongly critical of the World Cup expansion plan -- suggested there was no need for co-hosts.

"In my network, the United States are mentioned suspiciously often," Rummenigge, who is also the Bayern Munich CEO, said. "It wouldn't be bad at all. The interest in football and the enthusiasm for it are in place in the U.S."

The United States hosted the 1994 tournament and enthusiasm for the sport has grown over recent years.

Rummenigge referenced Bayern's 2016 tour of the country, saying: "We had 42,000, 54,000 and more than 80,000 spectators in our third match."

Karl-Heinz Rummenigge said he had been impressed by fans' enthusiasm during Bayern Munich's 2016 U.S. tour.

The ECA chairman recently warned FIFA it could face a "revolution" over the World Cup expansion and suggested clubs could withhold players amid concerns over burnout.

In the Sport Bild, he also renewed his objection to FIFA president Gianni Infantino's suggestion that the Club World Cup could be expanded, saying it would make more sense to scrap it altogether.

"The current Club World Cup format with seven teams is nonsense," Rummenigge said. "Everyone agrees."

Interest in the tournament has been limited in most parts of Europe in recent years, and in Germany there was no television coverage of Real Madrid's success in December.

"That's proof that the public interest is totally limited, not just in Germany," Rummenigge said. "And most of all that's down to the uninteresting format."

Citing the packed match calendar with international breaks, European and domestic league and cup competitions, Rummenigge said there is no place for an expanded Club World Cup.

"It would maybe be an interesting signal from the clubs to say that it's best to scrap the Club World Cup altogether in the interest of the players, even though a lot of money could be earned with it," Rummenigge said.

He also suggested halving the number of international breaks each year.

"My recommendation, which is currently being discussed: We know have four international breaks," Rummenigge said. "The number of games can remain the same in theory, but there should only be two international breaks, which can be longer.

"In October and March: We could play four instead of two games during those international breaks. This would also have the advantage for the national team coaches that the teams could be together for a longer spell and for instance work on tactical things."

Asked if clubs might refuse to allow players to join national teams if FIFA does not take action over the match calendar, he replied: "I am convinced that FIFA will and must take action.

"Gianni Infantino has declared he wants to be a democratic president. FIFA can't be interested in a revolution."

Stephan Uersfeld is the Germany correspondent for ESPN FC. Follow him on Twitter @uersfeld.

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