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President Barack Obama

Words of Support From President Obama Highlight U.S. Bid to Host FIFA World Cup 2018 or 2022

NEW YORK (April 15, 2009) – The USA Bid Committee’s effort to bring the FIFA World Cup to the United States in 2018 or 2022 has garnered the support of President Barack Obama, who has reached out to the world's governing body of soccer to endorse the efforts to bring 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.

“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.”

This Friday, April 17, is the deadline for stadiums and potential host cities to inform the USA Bid Committee of their interest in playing host to FIFA World Cup matches in 2018 or 2022. The USA Bid Committee last week mailed letters to 70 stadium operators, as well as public officials in more than 50 metropolitan markets, in a first step toward preparing a formal bid to play host to the FIFA World Cup in 2018 or 2022.

“We are pleased to have the support of President Obama as we look to bring the FIFA World Cup to the United States,” said Gulati. “With the President’s support, our goal of bringing the global community here to watch the largest sporting event in the world in 2018 or 2022 will no doubt be strengthened. We look forward to working with the White House as we continue to develop our bid for the World Cup.”

The United States, Australia, England, Indonesia, Japan, Mexico and Russia have formally declared their desire to host to 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.

FIFA has set May 2010 as the deadline for countries to submit their final paperwork to play host to the FIFA World Cup in 2018 or 2022. FIFA’s 24 member Executive Committee will then study the bids, conduct site visits and name the two hosts for the 2018 and 2022 tournaments in December 2010, completing a 21-month bid and review process.

Although early in the bid process, the possibility of hosting the World Cup has already generated significant national interest and enthusiastic support.

“I hope my family will have the opportunity to join millions of other families from around the world to watch soccer’s pre-eminent event here in the United States,” President Obama concluded in his letter. “I strongly support the work of the USSF to bring the Cup back to the United States, and I look forward to working with FIFA to make it the most successful World Cup competition in history.”

The 70 stadiums identified by the USA Bid Committee as candidates to host World Cup matches in 2018 or 2022 include National Football League stadiums, college football stadiums, and domed and retractable roof stadiums. The 70 stadiums represent 31 U.S. states and the District of Columbia.

In 1994, nine U.S. stadiums were used when the United States played host to FIFA World Cup, which then featured a 24-team and 52-match format compared to today’s field of 32 nations competing in 64 matches. Despite the smaller field and schedule of matches in 1994, the United States set an overall attendance mark of 3,587,538, a record that broke the previous tournament mark by more than one million fans and still stands today.

U.S. Soccer and the USA Bid Committee last month announced that former U.S. Secretary of State Henry A. Kissinger accepted an invitation to join the USA Bid Committee and play a leadership role in the nation’s candidacy to play host to FIFA World Cup in 2018 or 2022. Gulati said the USA Bid Committee will add new members in the weeks ahead.

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 preeminent sport in the United States and to continue the development of soccer at all recreational and competitive levels. To that end, the sports 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

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 include U.S. Soccer President and USA Bid Committee Chairman Sunil Gulati, former U.S. Secretary of State Dr. Henry Kissinger, U.S. Soccer CEO and Secretary General Dan Flynn, Major League Soccer Commissioner Don Garber, former Democratic National Committee National Finance Chair Philip Murphy, and former Goldman Sachs Vice Chairman (Asia) Carlos Cordeiro. The Executive Director of the USA Bid Committee is David Downs.