By Duncan Mackay

January 12 - Chicago today suffered another blow today when the city was omitted from the list of cities put forward as potential venues for the United States bid to host the 2018 and 2022 World Cup, with "Olympic fatigue" being partly blamed.

The city had hoped to play a leading role in the bid as a consolation for the failure of its ill-fated campaign to host the 2016 Olympics, which ended in controversy last October as they were eliminated in the first round of voting as the Games were awarded to Rio de Janeiro.

But Soldier Field, which hosted matches the last time the US hosted the World Cup in 1994, including the opening match of the tournament, was not chosen among the 21 venues in 18 cities that will form part of the United States campaign.

Sunil Gulati, the President of the United States Soccer Federation (USSF), claimed that Chicago had not been able to give their bid as much attention of the other 26 cities that were short-listed to host matches because at the time of the selection process they were in the final stages of the campaign to host the 2016 Games. 

He said: "I think there is a little Olympic fatigue.
"I think the Park District had a tough time wrestling with the FIFA requirements a short order after the IOC (International Olympic Committee) decision.

"When we [first] approached them they were in the middle of the Olympic bid, the city as well as the Park District, and they had a tough time getting moved to come into full compliance with FIFA standards."

The size of Soldier Field, the home stadium of Chicago Bears, may also have counted against it.

With a capacity of only 61,500 it is the smallest stadium in the NFL.

The capacity of the stadium has been reduced from 67,000 since 1994 when Soldier Field hosted the opening match of the World Cup between Germany and Bolivia.

The match itself was a quickly-forgotten 1-0 victory for Germany - Jurgen Klinsmann scoring in the 61st minute - and is instead chiefly remembered for the opening ceremony when Diana Ross missed a penalty as the goalposts inexplicably collapsed.

Gulati said: "Soldier Field is a wonderful stadium but if it had been in the mix it would have been by about 10 per cent the smallest stadium in our group."

Other matches that Chicago hosted in 1994 included Germany's 3-2 victory over Belgium in the round of 16.

There was better news for Atlanta, the host city of the 1996 Olympics, which was among the cities chosen as part of the USA World Cup bid.

The 70,000-capacity Georgia Dome played an important role when Atlanta staged the Games, including hosting the basketball, handball and gymnastics, memorable for Kerri Strug completing her final vault with an injured ankle to ensure the US won its first-ever team gold medal.

Gary Stokan, the President of the Atlanta Sports Council and the leader of the city's bid, said: "It's interesting to contemplate that Atlanta could be one of the few cities to host an Olympics and a World Cup.

"It shows how Atlanta has become a player on the world sport's scene because of it's infrastructure and airport accessibility."

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