US Soccer Federation president Sunil Gulati speaks at a press conference. Photo: EPA/PETER FOLEY

NEW YORK - US Soccer Federation officials are looking into hosting pre-World Cup matches next year involving teams such as Italy, Chile, Ghana, Netherlands and the USA that failed to qualify for Russia, according to reports.

Sports Illustrated, ESPN and The Washington Post reported Tuesday that US Soccer was exploring the idea of gathering top football nations from several continents that failed to reach the global showdown for friendlies or a tournament of some sort.

Working with the US governing body for football is Soccer United Marketing, the marketing arm of Major League Soccer.

For every nation involved, such an event could ease the five-year wait before the 2022 World Cup and provide some extra excitement for football fans in those countries, especially Italy, which missed the World Cup for the first time since 1958.

The Americans failed to qualify for the World Cup for the first time since 1986. The Dutch and Ghana had not missed out since 2002.

In addition to each other, the nations could be popular pre-World Cup tuneup opponents and gathering them in America could secure visits from World Cup qualifiers from South America and Central America ahead of their Russia visits.

Other nations that could be pulled into an event for World Cup absentees include Cameroon, Ivory Coast and Ireland.

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