Wednesday, November 12, 2008

2018 World Cup in USA Thanks to Obama?

Looks like Barack Obama's election to the United States Presidency will do wonders for US soccer as well.

According to an article in the Guardian Unlimited, Obama's election could derail England's bid to host the 2018 World Cup, according to a "high-placed" FIFA official. The unnamed source told Yahoo Sports that Obama's popularity will be "a huge factor" in deciding whether the USA is selected to host either the 2018 or 2022 tournaments.

"How can it not make a difference," said the source. "Now when you think of America, you don't think George W Bush or war, you think of this man, Obama, who has made history and given hope to millions. The men who vote on World Cup hosts are not immune to those same feelings. If the US bid stacks up in terms of infrastructure and organization, then Obama could be a huge factor."

US Soccer President Sunil Gulati has said that the organization intends to bid "in an aggressive fashion" as soon as FIFA clarify whether nations will be forced to choose which World Cup to bid for or if they will be allowed to bid for both 2018 and 2022.

"We know we would stage a terrific World Cup and having people view us as a nation in a better way is a positive," Gulati commented. "Anything that enhances the perceived views of the United States can only be a positive for us. It was very clear from the reaction around the world just how popular this result has been. This election has given a lot of people a reason to cheer."

Even if he wins a second term, Obama will no longer be in office by 2018. The winning bid will be determined, however, by a vote in 2011 - before the end of Obama's first term.

FIFA president Sepp Blatter is expected to visit Obama at the White House next year. Earlier this year Obama revealed that he had been a West Ham fan since he visited England in 2003. He can often be seen pitch-side at his daughter's soccer games in Chicago.

His election is also believed to be likely to have a galvanizing effect on Chicago's bid to host the 2016 Olympics, meaning that, as in the 1990s, the USA could host the two biggest sports tournaments on the planet in the space of two years.

MY POV: THANK YOU OBAMA!!! I knew electing this guy was the right way to go!


Alex said...

Shouldn't a country actually giving a toss about the sport stand for something. I mean, I am now stuck here for economic reasons but believe me: the percentage of true footy fans here is in the decimals. It would be wonderful were it different but I, as a press member at that time- went to a 1/2 full match in LA of Club America and Man U. a few years back- 1/2 full (at least local tickets would remain available...)

Cesar said...

Alex, I agree that the level of interest is low. But I think now's the time to strike, more so than in 1994.
MLS is doing well. Beckham has enhanced the image of soccer in the USA. Kids play the game in droves.
While the interest may be in decimals (not here in New York, at least), the sport has room to grow, even in a crowded professional market.