USA Bid Committee Names David Downs Executive Director as U.S. Confirms Desire To Host 2018 or 2022 World Cup
U.S. Soccer President Sunil Gulati announced on Monday afternoon that the U.S. Soccer Federation has officially submitted a declaration of interest to host either the 2018 and 2022 FIFA World Cups, and that David Downs will be the Executive Director of the USA Bid Committee. Downs, who will start immediately, previously served as President of Univision Sports from 2001-2009.
Feb. 2, 2009
The entire bid process will span 16-months, with FIFA setting May 2010 as the deadline for countries to submit their final paperwork. FIFA’s 24-man Executive Committee will then review each bid and name the two hosts for the 2018 and 2022 FIFA World Cups in December 2010.
Gulati will serve as the Chair of the Bid Committee, with U.S. Soccer CEO Dan Flynn, MLS Commissioner Don Garber and Phil Murphy, the former National Finance Chair of the Democratic National Committee, as the other initial members of the Committee. Other members of the USA Bid Committee will be announced in the near future.
“I’m pleased to announce we have submitted our interest to FIFA to host either the 2018 or 2022 World Cups,” said Gulati. “The World Cup is the greatest sporting event in the world, and to have the opportunity to host it once again is an honor, but also an incredible challenge. We are confident we can put together a successful bid to host another impressive event, and invite fans from around the world to enjoy the world’s game in our country.”
Downs enters into his new position after serving more than 30 years in the broadcast industry as an executive with both ABC and Univision Communications, Inc. During his time at both networks, Downs participated in successful negotiations with international governing body FIFA to acquire the U.S. television rights to every World Cup beginning with USA ‘94, including the 2010 and 2014 tournaments.
Since 2001, Downs was President of Univision Sports at Univision Communications Inc., the fifth largest television network in the United States and by far the country's leading Spanish-language television broadcast company.
"It is a privilege to be named Executive Director and have the opportunity to be part of the country's bid to bring the World Cup back to the United States,” said Downs. “I believe the sport will continue its incredible growth in this country and I know that the U.S. can host yet another first class World Cup tournament. It's a formidable challenge, but I'm looking forward to dedicating the next two years to the pursuit of that goal."
As the President of Univision Sports, Downs was instrumental in acquiring and developing sports programming for three networks – Univision, TeleFutura and Galavision. Overall, Univision televises between 300-400 live soccer matches each year across the three networks, including U.S. National Team, CONCACAF Gold Cup, Major League Soccer, SuperLiga, Mexican Primera Division and CONCACAF Champions League.
“Through his involvement in the sport, David has demonstrated he is the right person for the position of Executive Director,” said Gulati. “With his extensive understanding and knowledge of the game, he will be a key member of our team to help the U.S. present a strong bid for the World Cup.”
Moving forward there will be numerous components that will go into FIFA’s decision process for the two selections, but the only initial requirements for making a formal bid were for a country to have 12 stadiums with minimum capacities of between 40,000 for group matches, and 80,000 for the opening match and final. In addition, the very highest standards of TV broadcasting, information and telecommunications technology, transport and accommodation are an absolute must.
In 1994, the U.S. hosted the FIFA World Cup for the first time and silenced a world of doubters on how the sport would be received in the United States. World Cup USA 1994 was the most successful event in FIFA history, demonstrating the United States’ ability to stage major international events, and Americans’ ability to embrace the world’s most popular sport.
The cumulative attendance of 3,587,538 broke the previous record by more than one million, and the average attendance for the 52-game tournament of 68,991 also established a new mark. On July 17, 1994, Brazil and Italy disputed the FIFA World Cup title in front of 94,194 fans at the Rose Bowl in Pasadena, Calif. Overall, U.S. stadiums were filled to 96 percent capacity during the World Cup.
World Cup USA 1994 also left behind a legacy for soccer in the U.S. A surplus of approximately $50 million — more than double original projections — was contributed to the U.S. Soccer Foundation, the U.S. Soccer organization created to administer the World Cup surplus. The charitable arm of U.S. Soccer, the U.S. Soccer Foundation has taken a leading role in supporting the continuous development of the sport at all levels, helping develop coaches, players and referees, especially those in economically disadvantaged urban areas.