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Bid Book Submission Conference Call with Sunil Gulati and David Downs Quote Sheet


U.S. Soccer President SUNIL GULATI

Opening comments:
“It’s a very exciting time for U.S. Soccer obviously with the National Team starting to train on Monday and the World Cup a few weeks away as well as today’s event, which is a milestone in the process of bidding for the World Cup. In some ways, it culminates 16 years of planning because I think we started thinking about another World Cup the day after the last one finished in July of 1994, but really a process that’s been about two years in the making. The technical specifications that were laid out for the World Cup today have been met and exceeded in all cases by a terrific effort by our bid and the five books they presented to FIFA. We’re excited about the possibility of the World Cup returning to the U.S. In a conversation today with an executive committee member of FIFA, the question was: Should FIFA be looking for a safe and easy World Cup where everything is in place or should they be looking for one with great legacy potential? Overhearing this conversation, I interjected, ‘Well, at least in one case they didn’t need to decide between the two.’ In the case of the United States, you could meet both those objectives: A World Cup that could be played as quickly as FIFA would like it, whether it’s in ’18 or ’22 that meets all their standards without need for public funds, without need for building any infrastructure or stadiums and one that would have an extraordinary legacy. Projections of that legacy were based very much on what we’ve done in the last 25 years and certainly in the 16 years since the last World Cup.”

On the thought process behind proposing specific events in specific cities, such as Miami, New York and Dallas:
“The first comment that I’d make is all of that is very preliminary. The greatest strength of our bid is perhaps the flexibility. What I mean by that is we have multiple stadiums, multiple cities that can meet FIFA’s specifications for any event, whether it’s a game or a congress or an international broadcast center. Obviously, in terms of the brand new stadium in Dallas, it’s an extraordinary venue so it’s front and center of a number of things, but there are multiple venues that could host any individual game, we have lots that hold more than 80,000 and we certainly have many cities that we think would be attractive locations for an event whether it’s a FIFA congress, a FIFA draw or a World Cup final.

On what needs to happen for the U.S. to win the bid:
“I think we need to make the case that’s made in the bid book. There are two parts to this process. We’ve finished one. We have an extraordinarily well-done technical bid. We now need to convince at least 13 people that based on the bid, our experience and history of events in the U.S. and what the potential of having the U.S. enter the world scene in a very different way than what has even been done so far, would be extraordinary to the game. That it would be game-changing in some ways. We start the race with three confirmed votes from CONCACAF. We’re the only ones that can do that, for either ’18 or ’22, the only Confederation or group that has made a public statement that they would be supporting in such numbers. We think that’s a big plus.”

On whether the Arizona immigration law has come up and whether he is concerned that some other states are considering similar legislation:
“No one has raised it at FIFA. Secondly, it is a question that we’ve been asked. We were asked last Friday in a joint press conference with Justino Compeán the president of the Mexican federation. My comments were two-fold. One is that it’s a long way between now and 2018 and 2022. You have a piece of legislation that’s been approved in Arizona, which is obviously very emotional. The effort there is to strike a balance between legal issues and human rights and human issues. I think there will be a better balance struck soon. It’s being challenged legally; it’s obviously being challenged in public opinion. I think that’s about as much as we can say about it. At this stage, they’re part of the bid. We’ve got 18 cities, so we have plenty of options, and I don’t mean just regarding this issue, but it’s a long time between now and 2018 and I’d be very surprised if there weren’t some changes along the way. It would be a very different issue if we were hosting the World Cup in six months.”

On whether the bid committee would not select Phoenix, Ariz., if the U.S. were to host the World Cup in six months:
“We’d have to think long and hard about it. I’m not prepared to say that today. I think they’ve struck the balance in a way that is not the way I’d strike the balance. My hope is that there will be some changes in that legislation, whether it’s because of legal issues or public opinion. But public opinion is a little awkward to rely only on because the Gallup polls, so to speak, nationally show a majority of Americans in favor of the measures that Arizona has taken. It’s not one that shared by me, certainly. I don’t think I’m prepared to say how we’d react if it happened in six months. We have 18 cities, we only need 12. It may not need to cost us votes because it may cost the state.”

On the total expense projection for the tournament and total revenue projection, and the difference in projections from 2018 to 2022:
“The latter is easy, it’s 2.5 percent. We’re not going to get into the details of the expense projection but I think you can look at the cost in the revenue side as ballpark-ish $1 billion. So to be clear, there, we are talking about the organizing committee, not what happens at local levels to hotels and those sorts of things.”

On what was learned from Chicago’s failed Olympics bid:
“I don’t think we learned very much. We made it very clear early on when we started bidding several years ago that the processes were very different, the people are obviously different. The FIFA Executive Committee is 24 people. I know all of them individually and have known some of them for 25 years. It’s impossible to have that same situation with the IOC with 120-125 people voting. I don’t think we learned much from that process. We don’t have some of the same issues that Chicago and the American Olympic movement faced regarding the television coverage and so on. While we were obviously disheartened that Chicago didn’t fare better, I don’t think we learned anything from that process.”

On where he sees the U.S. bid being superior to other bids:
“I’m not going to comment on any specific bid but I don’t see any competitor having the same characteristics and qualities the U.S. has. We have 5 million tickets available for sale in a U.S. hosted World Cup. No one else will be close to that. We have 18 cities proposed; no one else is close to that. I don’t know the number of international airports we have, no one else is close to that. We have 320 million people and an average per capita income and so on and so forth. I don’t think anyone in the world that is bidding measures up to all of those characteristics. We have more registered players than anyone else. We have more ticket buyers for this World Cup than anyone else, with complete respect to all of our opponents, and they are credible opponents. On a technical basis, our bid far exceeds the standards and I don’t see how anyone else could technically match the standards at the level we’ve met.”

On the importance of the informal conversations in convincing the FIFA Executive Committee that the U.S. bid is the best:
“Two things, the Executive Committee members aren’t the ones that come on the formal tour. That’s a group that is appointed by FIFA that consists of a number of people but no one from the Executive Committee is on that. How important are the informal conversations? I spent the last four days in Bangkok, Seoul and Tokyo. I’m going to be in Abidjan next week, so I guess we think they’re pretty important.”

On how having another WC in the U.S. would help exposure of the game:
“The first World Cup changed the landscape of the United States in an extraordinary way when looked at nothing beyond the birth and continued success of MLS, but in so many other ways. The potential upside for a second World Cup in the United States, to me, is virtually unlimited. I come back to the comments I made earlier about the things that we have that none of our competitors have. We have 320 million people. If we get even a small percentage increase of them turned on to the game in a way that follows the team or MLS now, it would be extraordinary growth. If American television gets involved in the World Cup in the same way that American television essentially funds the Olympic movement, that would be a landmark change in the way FIFA’s revenues and therefore FIFA’s programs around the world are. It’s a very large country. We don’t need to rival the NFL to have a multiple or exponential increase in the popularity of the game in the U.S.”

On how much of an impact the World Cup in South Africa will have on the U.S. bid:
“South Africa has been a historic decision by FIFA and I think it will be a great tournament. We’re looking forward to it. Clearly FIFA had to make an investment and they have the resources to do that, which is fine. We think that an American-hosted World Cup, while being financially very successful for FIFA, really the big game-changer in the World Cup will be what happens after. When America is fully tuned in, in a way England or Brazil might be to a World Cup, when American commercial partners are and so on. So, it’s not mostly or even primarily a story of economics. It’s not simply the dollars that are generated through ticket sales. It’s that five million tickets are available, so when we look at that, we look at, obviously not five million unique individuals because people go to multiple games, but five million people get to participate in a World Cup in a live way. It’s not simply multiplying that by a ticket price and saying there will be $1 billion in revenue. So, yes, it will be commercially, very successful, we have no doubt about that. Mr. Blatter opened with his comments saying that the U.S. had changed the way the World Cup is viewed by not only being the first country to sell every ticket, but by being able to also fill every seat in the stands, which is true. Those of you who were at games will remember. Even for games that were not considered premier games in another country, we had 70, 80, 90,000 people. For exhibition games we regularly have some of those attendances because we have so many different communities from around the world. I don’t want to overdo the economics. It will be very, very successful financially; we have no doubt about that. A big part of that is we don’t have to spend money on infrastructure. Not only do we not have to do it, we don’t have to ask the U.S. government or any state government to do it.”

On the cities that would be training sites fit into the picture:
“It allows us to spread the message of the World Cup in direct participation beyond the ‘X’ venues, let’s say that’s 12 for the purposes of discussion. So we’ll have 32 teams participating, they’ll have training camps all over the country, as was the case in 1994. You’re going to have fans that are going to games all over the country, whether it’s by car or flying, so there are many ways, and we’ve had a number of cities that decided in the end they couldn’t participate in a being a venue and host city, but we have 32 cities offered as training camps, 118 different training sites available. There aren’t many countries in the world that can provide that. But I think it opens up the World Cup to a number of venues, a number of cities and states that aren’t viable as venues for games themselves because they don’t have a large stadium.”

On the biggest challenge that the bid faces:
“I think the challenge is people that have to make a decision. We’re not putting data into a computer and spitting out a result. Emotion matters, legacies matter, rotation matters to certain people. I wish that mattered a lot, because if it did, it’s CONCACAF’s turn. I think all of those things, when you’re talking about a campaign, human nature, lots of things will influence people; which is why having completed the first part, we will focus very much on the campaign. But we’ve already been doing that. In some ways we’ve been doing it for a long time, not just the last six months or two years, through personal relationships. The other thing that is really a plus for us and is really linking the two, we don’t have to explain to too many people on the executive committee or on this call the venues we have, the hotels we have, which is probably the largest hotel inventory anyone’s ever had, contracted for an event. People understand what U.S. Soccer is all about. What they don’t understand is how big the sport is in the United States in all cases. That’s something that we have to tell them. I’m still continually asked, whether it’s by my undergrads at Columbia or members of the media here in Europe, ‘When will American soccer take off?’ Then we start citing all those statistics about the attendances at the league, about the success of the national team, about the ticket buyers and so on. That’s a message we need to make sure everyone on the FIFA Executive Committee understands, how big the game is, but how much potential there is as well. If we get that message across, then I think the case is impossible to overlook.”

On the importance of the performance of the U.S. team in regards to the bid:
“I could answer that question halfway through it, and then again at the end of it. ‘How important is the performance of the U.S. team? Very important. Certainly to everybody at this table and certainly to the person sitting across from me, the captain of the team. We want to do well at the World Cup. Expectations are higher, we’re realistic about them and we’re hoping to get a few more guys fully healthy. I don’t want to make too much of it to the bid. In that case, there are countries that are bidding that don’t have a team here. So we’d already be ahead of the game, I guess. We think it could help if we do well because we will be in the public eye more when the team does. But the U.S. team doing well is important for so many reasons that are important for the development of the game and to the confirmation of everything this team has done over the last few years.”

USA Bid Committee Executive Director DAVID DOWNS
“I’d just like to add a big ‘Thank you,’ to the cities who have backed this bid. We are nothing but a consortium of 18 fantastic municipalities that have been with us from Day One. We’ve had a long and exhausting selection process first to start out with approximately 70 markets and make it down to 27 and finally to 18. They really make up the bid. If you go through the book you’ll see the stadiums, you’ll see a huge section on the cities and of course the U.S. government backing has been strong for us, as well. Again, as proud as we are of this little team for the amount of work that we’ve put into this representing our bid, it’s clearly a bid that represents the entire country and not just a handful of people who have been focused on it.”

On the importance of the performance of the U.S. team in regard to the bid:
“I think what is important to the bid in regard to the U.S. National Team is that the U.S. National Team is now competing in its sixth consecutive World Cup Finals. One of the subtle evaluations that a FIFA Executive Committee member has to think about when they’re awarding a nation as a host nation is that the host team qualifies. If you’re giving that spot to somebody that doesn’t realistically have a chance to play in the World Cup, that has an impact on the tournament. If you’re giving that spot to somebody that’s traditionally participating, like the United States, that’s a different dynamic.”

U.S. Men’s National Team Captain CARLOS BOCANEGRA

On the importance of the performance of the U.S. team in regard to the bid:
“The team doing well brings us into light in the media and the exposure, America loves winners and for us, it’s an important tournament. We feel that we’re at the level now where we need to be successful in these World Cups and we’re going to try to go down there and do something special. MLS, I have to say, has been a major part in us being able to get into the game at a young age and train at a professional level. Hopefully a positive outcome in the World Cup down in South Africa can lead to more exposure for MLS as well and that in turn continues to grow our game in America and hopefully takes some of the other kids out of some of the other major sports and keeps them involved in soccer.”

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