BONN, JULY 11 -- The ho-hum American reaction to this year's World Cup has provoked serious thought about the United States reneging as host of the world's most popular sporting event in 1994, according to reports in West Germany today.
Flush from their team's victory in the World Cup Sunday, West German soccer authorities were hinting that the next global soccer championship might be moved from the United States to Germany.
Quoting officials of the U.S. Soccer Federation, West Germany's largest newspaper, Bild, said that the Cup's dismal TV ratings had convinced the major U.S. networks that they want nothing to do with soccer.
Despite a worldwide TV audience estimated by the Italian organizers at 3.1 billion -- half the human race -- the World Cup attracted less than 1 percent of the U.S. viewing audience.
Two major sponsors that have signed up for the '94 Cup -- Coca-Cola and Anheuser-Busch -- reportedly are seeking ways to get out of their contracts, according to Bild's front-page report.
Without financial support from a TV contract and without major corporate sponsors, U.S. organizers could not hope to host the tournament. Because Italia '90 was a TV flop, "the nation of unlimited possibilities has gotten cold feet," Bild reported.
In Washington, Scott LeTellier, president of the 1994 World Cup Organizing Committee, said, "There's absolutely no basis to those statements. No truth at all."
LeTellier, who worked for the Los Angeles Olympic Organizing Committee in 1984, recalled at least three reports from European media in 1982-83 that said the Olympic soccer competition would be moved from the United States to West Germany.
"The World Cup will be played in the United States. Period," said Paul Stiehl, the U.S. Soccer Federation treasurer and a member of the board of directors for the 1994 organizing committee. "It's not going anywhere."
The United States won the rights to the World Cup in 1988, when FIFA, soccer's world governing body, picked it over Morocco and Brazil.
Although officials knew that professional soccer is not as popular in the United States as in other countries, they were encouraged by the 1.4 million soccer tickets that were sold during the 1984 Olympic Games in Los Angeles.
The U.S. Commerce Department has estimated that the World Cup would attract about 3 million spectators and generate more than $1.5 billion in revenue.
Both RFK Stadium in the District and Navy-Marine Corps Memorial Stadium in Annapolis were among the 18 potential game sites listed by the United States while bidding for the Cup.
National hero Franz Beckenbauer, the West German national team coach and a former player for the New York Cosmos, reportedly had been planning to move to the United States and act as a consultant to the U.S. team.
Beckenbauer, however, told the newspaper, that "if German football needs me, I'll be there."Special correspondent Steven Goff in Washington contributed to this report.