Iceland, Mexico, England vie for US World Cup support

Published 8:13 am Monday, June 25, 2018

MOSCOW — American soccer fans: Iceland’s prime minister wants your support.

The United States is absent from the World Cup for the first time since 1986, which means up to 325 million Americans are temporarily free agents.

Prime Minister Katrin Jakobsdottir says her island nation about 900 miles (1,450 kilometers) off Norway’s coast is the perfect pick for their passion. Iceland is the least-populous country ever at soccer’s showcase with just 350,000.

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“We can do with more supporters. We absolutely need them,” she said in a telephone interview with The Associated Press. “We’ve got a lot of support from people around the world. I think a lot of people like the way the Icelandic team played. I think the team spirit really was something that people liked.”

Costa Rica, Egypt, Morocco, Peru and Saudi Arabia already are out, and Argentina is on the verge of elimination, but alluring alternatives remain for those still unsure how to release their pent-up fervor with no U.S. red-white-and-blue to root for.

About 200,000 tickets were bought by American residents for the 2014 World Cup in Brazil, second behind only the host nation and up from approximately 130,000 four years earlier in South Africa. The U.S. remains second this year, but the total is down to approximately 87,000, FIFA said. That means more soccer supporters back home.