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FIFA TV boss hails US viewer rating for Portugal match as milestone for soccer

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Portugal's Cristiano Ronaldo pours water over his head during the group G World Cup soccer match between the USA and Portugal at the Arena da Amazonia in Manaus, Brazil, Sunday, June 22, 2014. (AP Photo/Themba Hadebe) (The Associated Press)

FIFA has hailed the TV rating in the United States for the World Cup match between the Americans and Portugal as a milestone for the sport.

FIFA's director of television Niclas Ericson says 24.7 million television viewers were "spectacular figures" for a group-stage match.

ESPN got 18.2 million viewers for the 2-2 draw on Sunday, and 6.5 million more watched on Spanish-language network Univision.

Ericson says the ESPN rating beats the average for the five NBA finals game this month and the six World Series games last October.

He says "we see it as an important milestone in the audience history of soccer in the U.S."

The Americans next play Germany at 1200 EDT (1500 GMT) on Thursday, needing to avoid defeat to reach the last-16 round.