WHEN might Americans next see the World Cup soccer tournament on United States soil? Maybe not until 2014, even though the US has received generally excellent reviews for its job hosting this summer's event.
The 1998 World Cup will be in France. Japan most likely will be the 2002 site (a decision expected in June 1996). In Japan's favor are geographic compactness and corporate dollars. Then, too, Asia represents a fertile new frontier for the sport, as does Africa, where the continent's soccer community has expressed interest in hosting a future World Cup.
A test of Africa's readiness may come next March, when Nigeria hosts the world youth championship, the World Cup for men's teams composed of players under the age of 20. That event, however, only has 16 teams, whereas the World Cup will expand from 24 to 32 teams beginning in 1998. Any African nation serious about landing the tournament in 2006 may have to go head-to-head with Germany, which has made its interest known.
The Cup's two favorite addresses have historically been South America and Europe, so organizers could be partial to Germany's overtures.
For the United States, the line forms at the end, with 2010 the earliest possible date for the Cup's return - barring the need for a stand-in host. Are monster trucks too exhausting to watch?
TRACTOR pulls, monster truck jumps, and mud races may be great entertainment, but what fans see in indoor arenas may not be all they get, according to the American Chemical Society. In the first issue of Chemical Health & Safety, a joint publication of the society and its Division of Chemical Health and Safety, serious questions are raised about the exhaust fumes these high-powered vehicles generate.
According to one article, the Cincinnati Health Department found high carbon-monoxide (CO) concentrations while monitoring three events held in a 16,000-seat arena in which the ventilation system operated at top capacity and the commercial-truck entrance was left open for additional ventilation.
Part of the danger, the article points out, stems from CO's unobtrusive nature: It is colorless, tasteless, odorless, and nonirritating. There are currently no Environmental Protection Agency national standards for CO indoors. Touching other bases
* In the interest of keeping its staff busy during the current major league strike, Baseball Weekly, a publication of USA Today, has sent out a news release to sports editors announcing that Baseball Weekly reporters are available for media interviews.
* Pop quiz: For the Centennial Olympic Games in Atlanta in 1996, there will be three events that offer free admission. What are they? See anwer and at end.
* Football is the big-budget king of the college sports realm, a fact evident in the lavish team guides sent to the media at this time of year. The 1994 season's early leader is the University of Texas. The Longhorns' guide (sold for $17 postpaid) is a whopping 296 pages. Besides the standard information, it carries everything from a roster of assistant coaches dating to 1893, to an all-time list of the school's 201 televised games. Such an exhaustive guide might seem excessive for a struggling program whose coach, John Mackovic, occupies one of the hottest seats in college football, according to a recent issue of Sports Illustrated.
* Given baseball's labor stoppage, the American soccer community must be kicking itself that a major soccer league isn't up and running in the United States right now. Major League Soccer, the promised legacy of the World Cup tournament, won't be launched until next April, when the electric atmosphere from this summer's event may seem a distant memory.
* The Ladies Professional Golf Association has opened a course near its Daytona Beach, Fla., headquarters that is especially designed for women's championship golf. Someone apparently likes water: LPGA International, as the layout is called, has 22 dug lakes covering 62 acres. It also is the most thoroughly irrigated course in Florida, with 2,600 computerized sprinkler heads.
* Answer: The free Olympic events are marathon running, race walking, and road cycling.