NEW YORK (January 4, 2010) – Academy Award-nominated director Spike Lee has formally accepted an invitation to join the Board of Directors for the USA Bid Committee in its effort to bring the FIFA World Cup™ to the United States in 2018 or 2022.
An avid sports fan known for sitting courtside at basketball games in New York City, Lee also has a passion for international soccer and the Arsenal Football Club of the English Premier League. Lee previously became the 40,000th season ticket-holder for F.C. Internazionale Milano, a perennial contender in Italy’s Serie A and Europe.
“Spike Lee owns a distinct creative spirit and unbridled passion for sport and we’re privileged to be able to incorporate his voice into the development of our bid,” said Sunil Gulati, the Chairman of the USA Bid Committee and President of U.S. Soccer. “As a fan of soccer and a father of a youth level player, Spike will provide a unique and invaluable perspective to our board of directors.”
Sports provide a common thematic element in Spike Lee films and specifically baseball is consistently referenced in most of Lee’s pictures. In 1999’s Summer of Sam, Reggie Jackson and the New York Yankees were recurrent themes used to connect the plot of the story with the popular culture of the time. While Lee has not made any films about soccer, the beautiful game has influenced his film career stylistically. After seeing the biopic on France’s Zinedine Zidane, Zidane: A 21st Century Portrait, Lee applied the film’s format of numerous cameras tracking an individual player on the football field to the basketball court for his ESPN documentary on Kobe Bryant, Kobe Doin’ Work.
“The sport of soccer has a global unifying aspect that allows it to break down social barriers and sets it among other universal languages such as music and the visual arts.” said Academy Award-nominated director Lee. “This unique quality is embedding the sport in the diverse American cultural landscape. I’m honored to be part of the USA Bid Committee and its efforts to bring the FIFA World Cup back to our country as we see the second half of our soccer history develop in front of our eyes.”
Lee was the producer, writer and director of Do The Right Thing in 1989, his breakthrough film that was nominated for two Academy Awards. The film was deemed culturally significant by the United States Library of Congress in 1999 and selected for preservation in the National Film Registry, one of five films to do so in its first year of eligibility. Lee’s production company, 40 Acres & A Mule Filmworks, has produced more than 35 films since 1983.
The United States, Australia, England, Indonesia, Japan 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. Mexico withdrew its bid in September. Following that announcement, CONCACAF issued a public endorsement for the United States bid in November that pledged the full support of soccer’s governing body for North and Central America and the Caribbean.
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 hosts for the 2018 and 2022 tournaments in December 2010, completing a 21-month bid and review process.
Lee joins the Board of Directors of the USA Bid Committee that recently welcomed New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg, ESPN Executive Vice President for Content John Skipper, Washington Post CEO and Publisher Katharine Weymouth, Walt Disney Company President and CEO Robert Iger, comedian and Seattle Sounders FC part-owner Drew Carey, MLS founding investor Philip Anschutz, Univision CEO Joe Uva, New England Revolution and New England Patriots owner Robert Kraft, U.S. Soccer Foundation President Ed Foster-Simeon, University of Miami President Donna Shalala, California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, U.S. National Team icons Landon Donovan and Mia Hamm, and former U.S. Secretary of State Henry A. Kissinger. In the months ahead, the USA Bid Committee will add additional national leaders from the sectors of sports, entertainment, government and business.
The USA Bid Committee’s Board of Directors met for the first time in person in New York City on Tuesday, December 15 to discuss the bid’s strategy entering the second half of the campaign in 2010. Board members have been contributing to the development of the United States’ bid on an individual basis since the beginning of the process and have been briefed on the progress of the campaign throughout.
The USA Bid Committee’s efforts have earned the enthusiastic support of President Barack Obama, who in April reached out to FIFA – the world's governing body of soccer – to endorse the goal of bringing the world’s largest sporting event back to the United States. In a letter to FIFA President Joseph “Sepp” Blatter and U.S. Soccer President Sunil Gulati, President Obama noted the role soccer played in his life as a youth, and its ability to unite people, communities and nations from every continent.
On Monday, July 27, Obama and Blatter met at the White House to discuss the U.S. bid and other soccer-related topics. The meeting was marked by Blatter confirming his invitation for President Obama to be his guest at the 2010 World Cup in South Africa. President Obama has expressed his interest in attending the event pending availability on his schedule.
A delegation from the U.S. Soccer Federation and the USA Bid Committee represented the United States in South Africa at the 2010 FIFA World Cup™ Final Draw on Dec. 4, 2009. One of just seven nations to participate in all six World Cups since 1990, the United States Men’s National Team was placed in Group C with England, Algeria and Slovenia. The first match of the 2010 World Cup for the United States will be against England on June 12 in Rustenburg, South Africa. The United States earned its place among the field of 32 for the 2010 FIFA World Cup™ in South Africa by capturing the top spot in the final round standings in CONCACAF.
In October, the USA Bid Committee recently released a study conducted by an independent consulting firm that estimates a conservative domestic economic impact of five billion dollars if the United States is chosen to host the FIFA World Cup™ in 2018 or 2022. The findings of the study indicate that the total economic impact projected for any one host city ranges from approximately $400 million to $600 million at today’s dollar value. The analysis also estimates that between 65,000 and 100,000 total new jobs would be created in the various host cities during the preparation and operation of the tournament in the year of the event. The study was undertaken by the Economics practice at AECOM, formerly Economics Research Associates (ERA), the world’s leading international sports and entertainment attraction consulting firm.
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 Houston Dynamo and Los Angeles Galaxy owner Philip Anschutz, New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg, comedian and Seattle Sounders FC part-owner Drew Carey, 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, Walt Disney Company President and CEO Robert Iger, former U.S. Secretary of State Dr. Henry Kissinger, New England Revolution and New England Patriots owner Robert Kraft, Director Spike Lee, California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, University of Miami President Donna Shalala, ESPN Executive Vice President for Content John Skipper, Univision CEO Joe Uva and Washington Post CEO and Publisher Katharine Weymouth. For more information, visit goUSAbid.com.