I pass along the following report from the New York Daily News’ Fillip Bondy merely for comedic purposes and encourage all sensible persons to take it with a grain of salt.

In meetings over the past few weeks, according to one source, U.S. Soccer officials have made it clear to FIFA they are eager, and prepared, to stage the 2010 or 2014 World Cup, as they did with relative success in 1994. Such a project would require a relatively short period of warning, because the U.S. already has the stadiums and the infrastructure in place. These are not the Olympics, requiring whitewater rafting and velodrome venues.

Two big problems remain with this plan: specifically, South Africa and Brazil. FIFA has already awarded the 2010 World Cup to South Africa, and would like to continue its continental rotation through 2014 by awarding that tournament to Brazil.

But recent visits have left FIFA president Sepp Blatter more skeptical of his own initiatives into poorer regions, and U.S. officials now envision a more plausible scenario in which the World Cup makes an emergency landing in anywhere from eight to 12 U.S. cities, including New York.

Thus far, FIFA has only vaguely hinted at its dissatisfaction with South Africa, and soccer’s governing body is unlikely to pull the event from that developing country, unless absolutely necessary. Such a move would send the wrong message, one of exclusion rather than diversity.

FIFA has done this only once before, moving a planned World Cup in Colombia to Mexico in 1986, when the Colombians admitted three years ahead of the event that they didn’t have the funding to pull it off. The South Africans probably would have to ask out themselves, in similar fashion.

It is worth remembering that one of the selling points for US ’94 — a commercial success if not an artistic one — was that said tournament would provide a launching pad for a serious First Division domestic league in the U.S.

Said league, currently celebrating it’s 10th Anniversary, has shown a baffling sense of it’s own importance or lack thereof, by maintaining a full fixture list throughout the World Cup.

(a Pavel Pardo corner kick, a flick-on from Mario Mendez….and Rafael Marquez grabs the glory for Mexico in the 4th minute)

Argentina’s Hernan Crespo — rebounding nicely from an unfortunate tenure as Joe Perry’s replacement in Aerosmith — has brought his side level with Mexico, 1-1, scoring in the tenth minute off Jared Borgetti’s aching head.

Though I’m a little more psyched for Portugal’s round of 16 match with the Netherlands — a rematch between the Euro 2004 semi-finalists — than England/Ecuador (merely because I’ll be wanting to sleep late), former England international / walking punch line Paul Gascoigne’s ghost-writer served up the following observations to the Telegraph :

“What have the Ecuadoreans ever done for us?” I asked a pal who can usually be relied upon to know about such things. He did: Ecuador, so I learned, is not only the world’s biggest exporter of bananas and balsa wood, it is also where the original Panama hat comes from -come on, admit it, you thought they came from Panama, too, didn’t you?

But as I’ve always preferred a Mars Bar to a banana, didn’t make model aeroplanes as a kid and, although I reckon I would look pretty nifty in a titfer, I don’t frequent Royal Ascot, Wimbledon or Lord’s, what have the Ecuadoreans ever done for me? That’s right, nothing, so as much as I have applauded some of their football in reaching the last 16, I fervently hope the country’s World Cup adventure comes to an abrupt end in Stuttgart tomorrow.

Now playing for Liga Deportiva Universitaria de Quito (and I thought Inverness Caledonian Thistle was a bit of a mouthful), Ecuador’s Agustin Delgado left his previous team, Barcelona de Guayaquil, under a cloud after the club president accused him of ‘partying late at wild clubs’. He sounds like my kind of fella, although there are those in Ecuador who think he’s tonto como un cepillo (or daft as a brush as we say on Tyneside).

While speculation rages that Graham Poll might’ve refereed his last World Cup match, some credit is due : in a tournament where commentators have argued that far too many yellow cards have been brandished, at least Poll took it upon himself to decide that 3 yellows merited a dismissal, as opposed to the usual two. How many other men would have the courage to make such a radical reinterpreation of the rule book on such a grand stage?