The 1994 Bid - How the US got the World Cup - Part 3
This story was taken from the original edition of World Cup Soccer, which was published in 1994 written by Michael Lewis. It is used with permission from Moyer Bell. The sixth edition of World Cup Soccer will be published in 2010.
July 4, 2013
Clive Toye, the New York/New Jersey host chairman for World Cup USA 1994, was privy to both the 1986 and 1994 bids. "The big thing this time is manners, superb, minute detail, which FIFA wants," he said. "It's thicker than Tolstoi's War and Peace and will put you asleep a lot faster. It's been approached with greater dignity than arrogance. The U.S. made itself contenders by the professional and dignity of its approach."
As it turned out, of the 18 stadiums listed in the application, only five are among the nine venues for USA '94 -- RFK Stadium (55,000), Washington, D.C., Soldier Field (66,260) in Chicago, Cotton Bowl (72,000), Dallas, Texas, Rose Bowl (103,553), Pasadena, Calif. and the Citrus Bowl (50,843) in Orlando, Fla.
The others? In the Northeast Region, there was JFK Stadium (90,000) and Franklin Field (61,000) in Philadelphia, Palmer Stadium (45,000) in Princeton, N.J. and the Navy-Marine Corps Memorial Stadium (30,000) in Annapolis, Md. In the Southeast Region: Orange Bowl (75,355) in Miami, Fla., Joe Robbie Stadium (74,990) in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., and Tampa Stadium (74,317) in Tampa Fla. In the Midwest Region: Arrowhead Stadium (78,065, artificial turf) in Kansas City, Mo., Cotton Bowl (72,000) in Dallas, Texas, and Minnesota Sports Stadium, Blaine, Minn. (45,000, under construction; proposed 1994 capacity: 90,000) in Blaine, Minn. And in the West Region: Coliseum (92,516) in Los Angeles, Calif., Husky Stadium (72,484) in Seattle, Wash., Parker Stadium (Corvallis, Ore. (40,593) in Corvallis, Ore., and Sam Body Silver Bowl (30,000) in Las Vegas, Nevada.
The stadium criteria included grass field, which had to be 115 by 75 yards. The capacities varied, from 30,000-40,000 for opening group matches to 60,000-80,000 for the opening match, semifinals and finals.
On Sept. 30, three U.S. representatives -- USSF treasurer Paul Stiehl, who later would become director of World Cup USA, the first of several leaders of that organization, Rey Post Jr. of Eddie Mahe Jr. and Associates (which included the Republican National Committee among its clients), which prepared the application, and former Cosmos and NASL public relations director Jim Trecker, who was brought in as a part-time public relations director, flew to FIFA headquarters in Zurich, Switzerland to present the application to FIFA. The U.S. bid, along with its rivals, were given to the 27-member World Committee of FIFA, which reviewed them.
The race for the World Cup was underway.
Over the ensuing months, World Cup USA and the federation would be in constant communication with FIFA, making sure every i was dotted at least once and every t crossed.
In December, 1987, each of the candidates made a verbal presentation at the qualifying draw for the 1990 World Cup in Italy (the United States presented a video). FIFA next sent a delegation to each of the remaining three countries to inspect stadium sites and facilities (the U.S. was inspected from April 10-18, 1988).
In fact, Havelange met with president Reagan in late 1987 in what was called a hopeful summit. Reagan threw his support behind the bid, and Havelange, who hadn't had much nice things to say about U.S. soccer in general, and the USSF in particular, through the years, offered some encouraging words.
"Holding the championship in this country would clearly be a way of promoting the sport more effectively in this part of the globe," he said.
As for the U.S. rivals, Chile dropped out early, saying it took a chance to ensure South American representation had Brazil decided not to pursue hosting the cup.
But Brazil had serious problems of its own. Despite its long, storied history in soccer, the country of Pele's birth and three world championship teams had experienced a seemingly endless list of problems in international soccer in 1987 and 1988. The Brazilian Soccer Federation reportedly was disorganized and out of touch with contemporary sport that 13 leading teams had threatened to secede from the association and start its own playoffs before a compromise was reached.
On the global level, the Brazilian national teams had accomplished very little to distinguish themselves in recent years. At the Under-16 World Cup in Canada during the summer of 1987, Brazil was eliminated in the opening round without scoring a goal -- a humiliating setback -- and was ousted in the first round of Copa America, the South American championships by Chile, not exactly a world soccer power.
Then there was the economical aspect. Brazil had not been in the best of financial shape, owing U.S. banks in the neighborhood of $10 billion that many institutions feared that they would near see. And, Brazil's stadiums were is disrepair and would cost millions of dollar to rebuild or renovate, according to a FIFA source. Building new structures was out of the question, concerning the country's financial crisis.
And then there was the bid.
The formal written portion was sloppy and handwritten in some cases. Brazilian officials also were late arrivals for the 1990 World Cup qualifying draw and that December gathering. And with FIFA, neatness and attendance do count.
So do having enough stadiums. While FIFA took Morocco's bid seriously, the emerging soccer country -- it became the first Third World and African nation to win its group and qualify for the second round of the World Cup in Mexico in 1986 -- had only one stadium that met FIFA's standards, a source said. Morocco probably is years away -- 2006 at the earliest -- before it receives the nod.
So, not surprisingly, there was a good sense things were going the Americans' way as the bid gained support throughout the world.
"It is important for football to have the World Cup in the United States," said Pele, a Brazilian. "I love Brazil. Everybody knows that Brazil is in a bad financial situation. In the United States, it would be good for the game because it would change in the World Cup. We played in 1970 in Mexico, but soccer doesn't change a thing. If there is a World Cup in Brazil, it doesn't change anything. It [the United States] is something new."
Even FIFA gave some hints. "We cannot all the time choose a football country -- soccer country, but we have to promote the game and bring soccer to this country," FIFA technical director Walter Gagg said. "And I think bringing soccer to this country, I think the enthusiasm will come at the same time."
Peter Vellapan, a member of FIFA's World Cup committee, agreed. "I think the time is now right to bring the U.S. soccer group under the wings of FIFA," he said. "I know not know whether it is wise to keep them away until 1998 by which time people get frustrated and are not in the limelight of things and so on."
Originally, the day of decision was set for June 30. But FIFA on March 3 changed it to July 4, U.S. Independence Day, making some soccer observers feel the U.S. was a shoo-in.
The U.S. hardly was a shoo-in. While its bid was solid, there were a number of concerns and minuses. There was a question of whether grass could be placed over the artificial turf football fields. There was no strong, national pro league, and could the USSF find a network or networks, possibly a cable concern, to originate a strong signal for not only the games in the states, but for the rest of the world.
With all that in mind, the U.S., Brazil and Morocco had one last meeting with the FIFA Executive Committee at the Movenpick Hotel in Zurich, Switzerland the morning of July 4, 1988.
Finally, at 1:21 p.m. that day -- 7:21 a.m. ET -- FIFA executive vice president Harry Cavan announced that the U.S. would host the World Cup.
The final tally of the vote, through a secret, card ballot was the U.S. 10, Morocco seven and Brazil two. Most of the U.S. support came from the officials from Europe and CONCACAF (Confederation of North, Central American and Caribbean Association Federations), of which the U.S. is a member.
Morocco received six votes from the African and Asian members of the committee, and one from Europe. Brazil received two votes from its South American colleagues. Two Brazilians on the committee -- Havelange and Abilio D'Almedia -- declined to vote so there would be no conflict of interest.
Cavan, who chaired the executive committee meeting, tried to measure the World Cup's impact on soccer in the U.S. "I think obviously it will have a tremendous development exercise on United States football," he said.
In fact, progress already might have taken place. "I noticed this morning, if I am allowed to repeat something, I noticed the delegation of the United States ued the word football," he said. "I was quite happy about that because I have for years been trying to get them to do it."
Added Fricker: "We now have the timetable set for us. We do not have the privilege to say, 'We'll do it somebody.' We must do it now.' "
A number of hours later, several members of the U.S. delegation gathered together in the lobby of the Zurich Hilton. Champagne was passed around, and Fricker lifted his glass in a toast.
"It was very nice to work with a wonderful group of people and thanks for all your support from the people back home," Fricker said.
The real hard work was just only beginning.