The secretary general of the United States Soccer Federation said yesterday the U.S. would consider taking over the 1986 World Cup tournament if Colombia makes official a report that it will not be able to host the event.
Should Colombia drop out, the prime candidates to take over the games are the United States and Brazil.
"We have heard nothing from Colombia," Kurt Lamm said from his office in New York. "If and when FIFA (the international football federation) does approach us, we would seriously look into it. But until we have been officially notified by FIFA that Colombia has given it up, it would be unfair to comment."
Reports from Bogota yesterday said Colombian President Belisario Betancur has not announced his plans to relinquish the World Cup, but indications are he soon will tell FIFA his country cannot meet the federation's conditions on improvements of stadiums, press facilities, communications, transportation and security.
A special Colombian World Cup commission appointed by Betancur will present its report to the president this week.
"President Betancur has the last word and he should be responding to the soccer federation in the next few days," an official said. Three major Bogota newspapers said in weekend editorials that Betancur's government would notify FIFA of its decision this week.
"Until something comes officially from FIFA, I think it would be premature and discourteous to comment or even think about initiating any type of movement," said Phil Woosnam, who as commissioner of the North American Soccer League was instrumental in arranging a world all-star game that drew nearly 80,000 customers to Giants Stadium following last summer's World Cup in Spain.
American officials have been reluctant to talk about taking over the 1986 World Cup for fear of alienating politically sensitive FIFA officials. The president of FIFA, Joao Havelange, is a Brazilian who reportedly would like to finish out his term by bringing the World Cup to his country for the first time since 1950. Brazil is a three-time winner of the World Cup and recognized as the driving force behind worldwide recognition for soccer.
A formal announcement of Colombia's decision is not likely to be made until December, at the next FIFA executive council meeting in Zurich.