Does Miami Really Have a Shot at Hosting the World Cup? Pepe Diaz Says Yes

When Riptide saw the news this week that an all-star band of celebrities and local power-players -- including the always busy Emilio Estefan and Alonzo Mourning -- was trying to bring the World Cup to Miami, we were tempted to laugh it off as a pipe dream.

But then we remembered how much we love pipes. And dreams. And the World Cup.

So we decided to call up Miami-Dade Commissioner Jose "Pepe" Diaz -- who's chairing the 11-person World Cup panel -- to see if he could talk us into believing in a future where the soccer nation descends on South Florida.

Diaz says it's not really that far-fetched. "It's a tough bid, but I wouldn't say it's impossible," he tells Riptide. "With the mix we have here -- between flights, hotels, outside entertainment, and a fantastic stadium -- it makes a lot of sense."

In case you haven't kept up with your FIFA bid process, here's what's up: The next World Cup will be held in South Africa next summer, and Brazil has already lined up the 2014 edition. Nine countries, meanwhile, have thrown their hats into the ring for the next two games, in 2018 and 2022, including the ol' U.S. of A.

We'll be tangling with Australia, Indonesia, England, Japan, Qatar, Mexico, Russia, and South Korea, plus joint bids from Spain-Portugal and Belgium-Netherlands.

A lot of observers think FIFA will be eager to return to Europe in 2018 after a more than a decade away from the heartland of soccer hooliganism. Diaz concedes that "chances are good they'll be looking at Europe for that World Cup."

But by 2022, the U.S. will have gone 28 years without the premier sporting event on Planet Earth. And if the Red, White, and Blue scores the soccer tourney, about 15 cities across the nation will get to host games.

Diaz says that with LandShark Stadium and the soccer-mad Latin American-heavy population, the Magic City is a natural for that list. "I'm very confident that if the U.S. does get a World Cup bid, Miami will be a host city," he says.

So there you have it -- not exactly a pipe dream, but pretty far from coming true. And even if everything falls into place, you're not likely to see a World Cup game in Miami for another 13 long, FIFA-free years.

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