FIFA President Joseph 'Sepp' Blatter Credited With First Goal Scored in $1.6 Billion Stadium Under Construction Near New York City
FIFA President Joseph “Sepp” Blatter today scored the first-ever goal in the New Meadowlands Stadium as he toured the facility with executives from the U.S. Soccer Federation and the USA Bid Committee prior to the CONCACAF Gold Cup title match at adjacent Giants Stadium in East Rutherford, N.J., across the river from New York City.
July 26, 2009
USA Bid Committee Executive Director David Downs, U.S. Soccer President Sunil Gulati, U.S. Soccer CEO and General Secretary Dan Flynn and Major League Soccer Commissioner Don Garber welcomed Blatter, who was accompanied by CONCACAF President Jack Warner and FIFA General Secretary Jerome Valcke to the new 82,500-seat stadium, which will open in May 2010 and serve as one of the jewel venues proposed in the U.S. bid to bring the FIFA World Cup to the United States in 2018 or 2022.
Mark Lamping, CEO of the New Meadowlands Stadium, served as host to the executives from FIFA, U.S. Soccer and the USA Bid Committee. Though the $1.6 billion stadium is still well under construction, Lamping and his associates arranged for the installation of a fully-sodded penalty area and a goal where both will ultimately be located for soccer matches. It was there that Blatter was asked to score the first goal in the new stadium. The ball will be later displayed in a place of honor in the stadium’s museum.
Commemorative balls were later presented to Blatter, Valcke and Warner, who is also a FIFA vice president as well as the president of CONCACAF, The Confederation of North, Central American and Caribbean Association Football, of which the United States is a member.
Lamping later discussed with Blatter the stadium’s environmentally friendly features, which from construction materials through operating practices have been hailed as the most comprehensive in the sports industry. Lamping also touched on the grand opening earlier today of the Meadowlands Station rail transit line that will transport fans to and from the stadium complex from throughout the Tri-State area.
The stop at the New Meadowlands Stadium by Blatter and the USA Bid Committee was in advance of a visit on Monday with U.S. President Barack Obama in Washington, D.C. Blatter, Valcke, Warner, and Gulati will be welcomed at the White House in the afternoon by President Obama, who gave his support to the U.S. bid in a letter to Blatter and Gulati earlier this year.
“Hosting another successful World Cup is important for the continued growth of the sport in the United States. And it is important to me personally,” President Obama wrote in his letter. “As a child, I played soccer on a dirt road in Jakarta, and the game brought the children of my neighborhood together. As a father, I saw that same spirit of unity alive on the fields and sidelines of my own daughters’ soccer games in Chicago.”
“Soccer is truly the world’s sport, and the World Cup promotes camaraderie and friendly competition across the globe,” President Obama added. “That is why this bid is about much more than a game. It is about the United States of America inviting the world to gather all across our great country in celebration of our common hopes and dreams.”
The United States, Australia, England, Indonesia, Japan, Mexico 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 Qatar and South Korea have applied as candidates to play host only to the tournament in 2022.
All candidates must have their bid applications to FIFA by May 14, 2010. FIFA’s 24 member Executive Committee will study the bids, conduct site visits and name the two hosts for the 2018 and 2022 tournaments in December 2010.
ABOUT U.S. SOCCER:
Founded in 1913, U.S. Soccer has helped chart the course for soccer in the USA for more than 95 years as the governing body of the sport. In this time, the Federation’s mission statement has been simple and clear: to make soccer, in all its forms, a pre-eminent sport in the United States and to continue the development of soccer at all recreational and competitive levels. To that end, the sport’s growth in the past two decades has been nothing short of remarkable as U.S. Soccer’s National Teams have continually succeeded on the world stage while also growing the game here in the United States with the support of its members. For more information, visit ussoccer.com.
ABOUT THE USA BID COMMITTEE INC.:
The USA Bid Committee is a non-profit organization created to prepare a successful application to host the FIFA World Cup™ in 2018 or 2022 on behalf of the United States Soccer Federation. The Bid Committee will submit its comprehensive bid to FIFA by May 2010, with FIFA’s 24???member Executive Committee making a decision in December 2010. Members of the USA Bid Committee in alphabetical order include former Goldman Sachs Vice Chairman (Asia) Carlos Cordeiro, U.S. Men’s National Team player Landon Donovan, Executive Director David Downs, U.S. Soccer CEO and General Secretary Dan Flynn, U.S. Soccer Foundation President Ed Foster-Simeon, Major League Soccer Commissioner Don Garber, U.S. Soccer President and USA Bid Committee Chairman Sunil Gulati, U.S. Women’s National Team former player Mia Hamm, former U.S. Secretary of State Dr. Henry Kissinger, New England Patriots and New England Revolution Owner Robert Kraft, former Democratic National Committee National Finance Chair Philip Murphy, California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, University of Miami President Donna Shalala and Univision Communications CEO Joe Uva.