HOUSTON (Sept. 9, 2010) – The FIFA Technical Inspection Tour of the United States concluded today with stops in Dallas and Houston, wrapping up a three-day, five-city tour highlighted by meetings with national and local civic and business officials, visits to stadiums and tourism attractions, and introductions to soccer players, coaches and fans from throughout the United States who embody the spirit of “The Game is in US.”
Hosted by the USA Bid Committee, the tour was designed to give the six-person FIFA Inspection Delegation a closer look at many of the assets featured in the U.S. bid to host the FIFA World CupTM in 2018 or 2022. The FIFA Inspection Delegation is conducting similar tours of bidding nations prior to FIFA’s announcement on the 2018 and 2022 hosts on Dec. 2.
“The tour was a terrific experience and opportunity for us to exchange thoughts with the FIFA delegation and highlight various aspects of our bid,” said Sunil Gulati, president of U.S. Soccer and the chairman of the USA Bid Committee. “The enthusiasm our cities and the country would have for a possible World Cup in the United States was clearly evident during this tour. I think we made very clear that if the U.S. is selected to host the World Cup in 2018 or 2022, we will be a welcoming host.”
The FIFA Inspection Delegation was led by Harold Mayne-Nicholls, the president of the Chile Football Association. The FIFA Delegation also included Dr. Danny Jordaan, CEO of the 2010 FIFA World CupTM local organizing committee in South Africa; Jürgen Müller, FIFA Head of Event Management; Wolfgang Eichler, FIFA Media Officer; David Fowler, FIFA Marketing; and Julio Avellar, FIFA Competitions.
Highlights of the tour included:
New York City/New Jersey
- Welcome reception in New York on Monday evening hosted by Mayor Michael Bloomberg, who is also a member of the USA Bid Committee board of directors. The reception was attended by representatives of all 18 U.S. candidate host cities.
- Visit to the Javits Center, a potential site for a qualifying or final tournament draw event.
- Tour of Red Bull Arena, home of the New York Red Bulls of Major League Soccer, as a training site candidate. Red Bull Arena opened earlier this year.
- Visit to the New Meadowlands Stadium, where video was played on the four scoreboard screens of two sold-out friendlies already played this year – Mexico vs. Ecuador and the United States vs. Brazil. The New Meadowlands Stadium also opened earlier this year.
- A visit on Tuesday to George Mason University, which is featured in the U.S. bid as a proposed training site. The delegation met university president Alan Merten and men's soccer head coach Greg Andrulis, and were accompanied by former U.S. Men's National Team captain John Harkes, now a color commentator on ESPN.
- A breakfast at the White House with Shaun Donovan, U.S. Secretary for Housing and Urban Development; Valerie Jarrett, senior advisor and assistant to the President for Intergovernmental Affairs and Public Engagement; and Jim Messina, White House Deputy Chief of Staff.
- A tour of the Washington Monument, where the team took the ride to the top to overlook the proposed surrounding area for the local FIFA Fan Fest.
- A visit to nearby FedExField, where the delegation was welcomed by Washington Redskins owner Dan Snyder. FedExField has a proposed FIFA World Cup capacity of 89,690, making it one of the largest in the U.S. bid.
- Dinner with U.S. Men’s National Team coach Bob Bradley and other guests.
- Tour of Sun Life Stadium, home of the Miami Dolphins. The stadium was set up for a soccer configuration, including field markings, benches and goals.
- Donna Shalala, University of Miami president and a member of the USA Bid Committee board of directors, welcomed the delegation along with famed music producer Emilio Estefan, who owns a stake in the Miami Dolphins along with his wife, Grammy Award-winning singer Gloria Estefan.
- Also on hand to help with the tour was Mike Dee, CEO of the Dolphins and Sun Life Stadium, and the cheerleaders of the Miami Dolphins.
- The delegation was later transported by helicopter to the Miami Beach Convention Center, which is a proposed site for one of the World Cup draws.
- A tour of the Dallas Convention Center, a proposed FIFA Congress site, where the delegation met Dallas Mayor Tom Leppert and various city officials.
- A visit to Cowboys Stadium, where the delegation was welcomed by the world famous Dallas Cowboys Cheerleaders.
- A meeting at the stadium with Jerry Jones, owner of the Dallas Cowboys; Clark Hunt, owner of FC Dallas of Major League Soccer and a founding investor and owner in the league; and Mayor Robert Cluck of Arlington, Texas, the municipality in which Cowboys Stadium is located.
- Video message at Cowboys Stadium from U.S. President George W. Bush welcoming FIFA to Texas and informing the delegation that he and his wife Laura will be tuned in to FIFA’s announcement on Thursday, Dec. 2.
- A tour of Reliant Stadium, home to the Houston Texans of the National Football League and site earlier this year of the sold-out Major League Soccer All-Star Game between the MLS All-Stars and Manchester United.
- A meeting at the stadium with Houston Texans owner Bob McNair and Houston Mayor Annise Parker.
- A video message at Reliant Stadium from U.S. President George H.W. Bush.
- A concluding visit to the George R. Brown Convention Center, a candidate for the International Broadcast Center.
- A greeting at the convention center by Brian Ching of the U.S. Men’s National Team and Houston Dynamo of MLS; and Dominic Kinnear; head coach of the Houston Dynamo and former Men’s National Team player; and National Basketball Association star Yao Ming of the Houston Rockets.