Obama€s Election could boosts World Cup bid
RONALD BLUM | 2/3/2009, 3:52 p.m.
NEW YORK (AP) -- The U.S. Soccer Federation thinks the election of President Barack Obama will help persuade FIFA to award the 2018 or 2022 World Cup to the United States.
"Given everything that, frankly, President Obama has said, everything he stands for, everything he's talked about in terms of reaching out to the world," U.S. Soccer Federation president Sunil Gulati said Monday, "that trying to bring the global game to the United States and opening our borders up for a festival of 32 countries and hundreds of thousands of people from all corners of the world would be viewed in a very positive way."
FIFA received 11 preliminary bids for both the tournaments Tuesday, including applications from the United States, England and Russia. Mexico, South Korea, Japan, Australia, Indonesia and Qatar all submitted the paperwork on time. Netherlands-Belgium and Spain-Portugal each made joint offers, although FIFA president Sepp Blatter has expressed a preference for single-nation bids. Possible contenders Egypt and China did not submit bids.
Next year's World Cup will be in South Africa and the 2014 tournament will be staged by Brazil. FIFA says its executive committee will decide hosts for both tournaments in December 2010, and Blatter has expressed a preference for single-nation bids.
"What happened over the last several months and what happened two weeks ago in Washington has dramatically changed the view of United States and its leadership around the world. It would be impossible to think anything different," Gulati said during a conference call. "And for those of us who travel around the world quite a bit, that is noticeable, it's audible and it's visible. So that clearly is a positive for frankly, for Chicago bidding for the Olympics and for any effort to bring the World Cup back here."
The United States hosted the 1994 tournament at nine stadiums and set records for total attendance (3.58 million) and average (68,991). Major League Soccer launched in 1996, and Gulati said another tournament in the United States would "finish the job."
Among the nine areas used in 1994, new stadiums have opened in Detroit; Foxborough, Mass.; and Landover, Md. In addition, Solider Field in Chicago was extensively refurbished, and new stadiums are to open next year in Arlington, Texas; and East Rutherford, N.J.
Since 1994, large new stadiums also have opened in Baltimore; Charlotte, N.C.; Cincinnati; Cleveland; Denver; Glendale, Ariz.; Houston; Indianapolis; Jacksonville, Fla.; Nashville, Tenn; Philadelphia; Pittsburgh; St. Louis; Seattle; and Tampa, Fla. In addition, the Superdome in New Orleans was refurbished after Hurricane Katrina.
AP National Writer Nancy Armour in Chicago contributed to this report.