Actor Morgan Freeman Joins U.S. Bid Committee To Bring FIFA World Cup To United States In 2018 Or 2022
the U.S. Soccer Communications Center | 6/13/2010, 10:17 a.m.
Academy Award-winning actor Morgan Freeman has formally accepted an invitation to join the Board of Directors for the USA Bid Committee in its effort to bring the FIFA World Cup to the United States in 2018 or 2022.
Freeman commemorated his new role by adding his name to the USA Bid Committee's online petition at www.goUSAbid.com, joining the more than 460,000 people who have already registered their support for the cause.
Freeman filmed the critically-acclaimed motion picture Invictus last year in South Africa, where the historic 2010 FIFA World Cup is set to start on Friday with host South Africa facing Mexico in Johannesburg.
Portraying anti-apartheid activist Nelson Mandela, the first democratically elected president of South Africa, Freeman received an Academy Award nomination for best actor, the fifth nomination of his career.
The film chronicled the first year of Mandela's presidency, centering on his support of the national rugby team and how their improbable championship in the 1995 Rugby World Cup held in South Africa was a catalyst to easing racial tensions and uniting the once heavily-divided country.
"As Mandela said once, 'Sport has the power to change the world. It has the power to inspire, the power to unite people that little else has,'" said Freeman. "I have seen the power that sport, and in particular soccer, can have on individuals around the world and that is why I am so honored to represent and support the United States through the conclusion of this noble effort to bring the tournament back to our country."
A veteran of more than 60 feature films over the last 30 years, Freeman received an Academy Award for best supporting actor in 2004 for his role in another sports movie, Million Dollar Baby. Freeman was also received Academy Award nominations for best supporting actor for Street Smart in 1987, best actor for Driving Miss Daisy in 1989 and best actor for The Shawshank Redemption in 1994.
In another connection to South Africa, Freeman made his directorial debut in 1993 with the film Botha!, a story about the country during apartheid.
"Morgan is truly a citizen of the world who is recognized as such in every continent because of his award winning acting and his unique voice." said Sunil Gulati, the Chairman of the USA Bid Committee and President of U.S. Soccer.
"His understanding of the role that soccer plays in our global society is unique. We are honored to have him joining our Board of Directors and thank him for his contribution to the bid's newest promotional video."
Freeman is one of the principals of Revelations Entertainment, an independent production studio co-founded by Freeman and Lori McCreary in 1996. The studio focuses on developing and producing compelling human stories that enlighten, express heart and glorify the human experience. Their films include Bopha! (1993), Mutiny (1999), Under Suspicion (2000), Along Came a Spider (2001), Levity (2003), Feast of Love (2006) and Invictus (2009).
The United States and the eight competing bids submitted their official bid book to FIFA in a formal ceremony in Zurich, Switzerland on May 14, 2010. FIFA's 24-member Executive Committee will study the bids, conduct site visits and name the hosts for the 2018 and 2022 tournaments on December 2, 2010, completing a 21-month bid and review process.
The United States, Australia, England and Russia have formally declared their desire to host the FIFA World Cup in 2018 or 2022. Netherlands-Belgium and Portugal-Spain have each submitted joint bids for the 2018 and 2022 tournaments, while Japan, Qatar and South Korea have only applied as candidates to host the tournament in 2022.
Indonesia withdrew its bid in March 2010, while Mexico withdrew its bid in September 2009. Following the Mexico announcement, CONCACAF issued a public endorsement for the United States bid in November that pledged the full support of soccer's governing body for North and Central America and the Caribbean.
Freeman joins the Board of Directors of the USA Bid Committee that on May 17 welcomed President Bill Clinton as its Honorary Chairman and whose efforts have earned the enthusiastic support of President Barack Obama. President Clinton and President Obama each authored letters of support in the official U.S. bid book presented on May 14 in Zurich to Blatter, who was welcomed to the White House last summer by President Obama.