The bids are in. About 12 hours from now we will know where the 2018 and 2022 FIFA World Cups will be hosted. If you are a casual sports observer, you may be wondering what it is about this event that brings out former Presidents, famous movie stars, and star players to pitch why they think FIFA should choose the United States in 2022. Sports marketers know that this event, much like the Olympic games, is capable of single-handedly turning around an economic recession or mending political wars.
Heck, it was even able to spontaneously create an entire league in the country where soccer is perhaps the least popular, the United States. Major League Soccer launched in 1993 as part of a successful bid to bring the 1994 World Cup stateside. I will never forget attending the Holland vs. Morocco match at the Citrus Bowl in Orlando. Witnessing a Sea of Orange that looked eerily similar to the Sea of Red I was accustomed to at Chiefs games growing up, I was overwhelmed by the Dutch support so far from their home countries. That Cup did wonders for the game of soccer in this country by instilling a small taste of the passion this game brings in millions of otherwise disinterested Americans just like me.
Now the likes of Bill Clinton, Morgan Freeman, and Landon Donovan are trying to help bring it back. The competition with Australia, Japan, South Korea, and Qatar is stiff, but the Americans’ ability to fill every stadium regardless of the matchup will be tough for the committee to overlook. I also found it interesting to hear this evening that in the final US pitch, diversity was the chosen platform. If we are successful at bringing the World Cup back, soccer would catch an even larger wave of momentum that would carry US support into the unforeseeable future.
Of course, these games can mean so much more for other countries around the world. I am not exaggerating when I say they can be a matter of life and death. For example, while Americans spoke of their diversity in their final pitch, Koreans spoke of the potential unity that the World Cup would bring, and the peace that may result. In the most recent games, it is estimated that the World Cup added .5 – 2.2% to the Gross Domestic Product of South Africa. Imagine that – a single event improving the GDP of an entire nation!
Whether you care for soccer or not, this is a big deal. I know I am getting this to you a little bit late, but you can still sign the petition to better the US chances of landing the 2022 World Cup at http://www.gousabid.com/
I am proud to say that I was the 1,249,466th person to sign. Coincidentally, that has been my lucky number since middle school, which I think is a good sign.