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Gulati discusses U.S. World Cup bid

With the FIFA inspection tour complete, U.S. Soccer Federation President Sunil Gulati, head of the American bid to host the 2018 or '22 World Cup, addressed questions about the five-city stop and where things stand in pursuit of the sport's grand event. Some highlights:

On the possibility of dropping out of the running for 2018, amid clear indications that FIFA wants it in Europe: "We would certainly listen and have the appropriate conversations with the FIFA president and the UEFA president at the right time. We haven't been asked to withdraw, but I acknowledge, and we have really from the beginning, that there is a sentiment within a number of members [of the FIFA executive committee] that 2018 should be in Europe. If at some point, between now and Dec. 2 [when the hosts are named], we think it is in our best interests to do that, we would make that decision."

On the narrow width of NFL stadiums under consideration to stage matches: "We obviously knew that some of the NFL stadiums [including FedEx Field] aren't configured, as they exist now, for FIFA World Cup dimensions. In our submission to FIFA, we have guaranteed them that we can fit to that level; the stadiums have assured us of that. We did discuss it on this trip, but all of our venues can get to 75 yards (68 meters). What we also talked about was, in any case, if we thought it was prohibitive to do that for any reason, we've got 18 cities as part of our bid process. I don't think that is an issue. We have assured them that we will get to FIFA international dimensions and can do that in a cost-effective way, and if for any reason we can't, we have alternatives."

On George Mason University's facilities as a possible training site: "You saw a phenomenal facility: a world-class surface, a set of stands that can [provide] seclusion, almost perfect from what a national team would want around the World Cup."

For more, including China's role.....

On China's interest in 2026 impacting the 2022 race, which includes contenders Japan, South Korea, Australia and Qatar: "It is a decision for FIFA to consider all the long-term implications of their decisions. [Of note: If they choose an Asian bid for 2022, China would not be eligible in 2026.] Down the road, China has indicated that it would be interested in hosting a World Cup. How that plays into the decision FIFA may make for 2018 and 2022 remains to be seen, but I don't think anyone would doubt that China would make a great host in the future, especially after what they did with the Olympic Games and the growth and size of the economy."

On tour's importance: "They will write a report, addressing a number of issues -- pros, cons. They won't be saying we should go to country X or Y. That report will then go to the 24 people that are going to make this decision. How much it influences and affects those 24 people is probably on a case-by-case basis. Some will be strong supporters of a country regardless of what the report said, others will be certainly influenced. To what degree, I can't predict."

On public transportation moving visitors: "The typical experience around an NFL game where most or many people are driving, tailgating, whatever it might be, may or may not be what a World Cup audience looks like. We did talk about that [with the FIFA reps] -- either existing infrastructure like light rail, heavy rail, subway, and also what things can be put into place on a short-term basis, such as buses, like what is done at the Super Bowl, where so much parking is used for ancillary events. Any public-sector plan between now and 2018 or 2022, there are some of those plans in a couple of these cities to add light-rail transport. It was a view that was raised and discussed, and I think we had the appropriate answers to those questions."

On advantages/disadvantages of being a geographically large country: "The advantages are obvious: We have 18 cities that we have put forth as possible candidates. That gives us extraordinary flexibility. We have multiple stadiums that could reach the requirements for a World Cup final or for an opening game. Very few of the candidates can promise that. We have multiple cities that are capable of hosting things like the International Broadcast Center, FIFA Congress or a World Cup draw. Those are all positives. Clearly, the distances involved are different than they would be in some of the other candidates."

For official comments from the FIFA delegation, click here.

By Steve Goff  |  September 10, 2010; 11:35 AM ET
Categories:  USA World Cup bid , USSF  | Tags: U.S. World Cup bid  
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Comments

Heck, they could train at the soccerplex. I'll gladly rent my kids' rooms to one of those Euro teams. We'll even include cereal and pop tarts for breakfast.

Posted by: I-270Exit1 | September 10, 2010 11:43 AM | Report abuse

I might have missed this, was Soccer Insider at the DC FIFA dinner? Can't see how the guest list could have been complete without the chief of soccer digiterati.

Posted by: OWNTF | September 10, 2010 12:12 PM | Report abuse

the report to FIFA should just say:

"The 1994 World Cup held in the US is still the most attended and profitable World Cup. And that was with games at smaller stadiums like RFK, which held 57,000, while future games would be at FedEx Field, which holds 80,000."

Posted by: joe_hill | September 10, 2010 12:50 PM | Report abuse

Wild speculation:

2018: England
2022: USA!
2026: China
2030: Russia
2034: Cancelled due to Armageddon / Apocalypse / etc.
2038: The Moon
2042: Mars
2046: Europa (the Jovian moon, not the UEFA competition)

Posted by: Miles_Standish_Proud | September 10, 2010 1:22 PM | Report abuse

I270, What if your guest team requests a magician?

Posted by: dcarmy | September 10, 2010 1:25 PM | Report abuse

"In the case that you are to be awarded the event, we would also need a strong focus on an international legacy, not only a domestic one."
What is this supposed to mean exactly? The comments about the public transportation are pretty clear but this still seems a bit cryptic to me. I thought the rest of the world was still reeling from the international legacy of the previous administration...

Posted by: Modibo | September 10, 2010 1:25 PM | Report abuse

I think it means we have to insist that ever after the USA Cup, everyone across the globe has to call the game soccer

but it is cryptic or maybe he was just talking about Chicken McNuggets

Posted by: OWNTF | September 10, 2010 1:41 PM | Report abuse

dcarmy: I know a card trick or two. But Rooney might be thinking about another kind of trick.

Posted by: I-270Exit1 | September 10, 2010 1:42 PM | Report abuse

Arguably, the biggest international legacy was left by the 1999 WWC in terms of women's participation in the sport. Other than that, has any WC left an international legacy? Let's look at the tape:
South Africa '10: bad refereeing
Japan/S. Korea '02: Ridiculous time zone
France '98: Gendarme beaten into coma by hooligans
USA '94: Murdered Columbian
England '66: Start of the clamor for instant replay?

Posted by: I-270Exit1 | September 10, 2010 1:53 PM | Report abuse

Re. 'George Mason University's facilities as a possible training site: "You saw a phenomenal facility: a world-class surface, a set of stands that can [provide] seclusion, almost perfect from what a national team would want around the World Cup." '

--Any chance they have room for 27,000 more seats and some parking? And a billboard with a poster of -- who's it gonna be now, Najar?

Posted by: fallschurch1 | September 10, 2010 2:18 PM | Report abuse

If you were to list the 25 worst stadiums, could you leave out RFK? Certainly notzzzzzzzzzz
http://bleacherreport.com/articles/447653-the-25-dumbest-stadiums-ever-built#page/9

Posted by: SeanWG | September 10, 2010 2:22 PM | Report abuse

I wonder if FIFA asked about playing in the heat. Remember in 94, Dallas saw temps into the mid 90's which is normal there but makes for an uncomfortable experience for fans and players. The 18 cities include several hot ones too. Just wondering if this is an issue.

Posted by: sbg1 | September 10, 2010 2:50 PM | Report abuse

"Arguably, the biggest international legacy was left by the 1999 WWC in terms of women's participation in the sport. Other than that, has any WC left an international legacy?"

Germany in 2006 did. The WC basically changed the world's perception of the country. It also led to a sense of German pride not seen in decades.

Posted by: lightgrw | September 10, 2010 3:14 PM | Report abuse

"but I don't think anyone would doubt that China would make a great host in the future, especially after what they did with the Olympic Games "

huh? it this supposed to be sarcasm from Sunil?

Posted by: CDRHoek | September 10, 2010 10:49 PM | Report abuse

I'm sure no one has forgotten the heat of '94. That's what makes Dallas such an attractive prospect this time around. Cowboys Stadium has got climate control. Ditto for the stadium in Glendale, AZ. Of course, practice facilities in the desert could still be a problem....but the DC area would be no picnic, either.

That "international legacy" comment was a real headscratcher. Maybe, they mean beyond soccer. Like opening up the African continent... If so, bringing the USA back into the community of nations would be real positive. If they mean with regard o football -- perhaps, the USA would be best positioned then. USA players might be ready to move in greater numbers abroad, and the league might be better positioned to be compete economically and on the field against other leagues. Plus, we can show 'em how instant relay is done.

I guess the USA could drop out of the '18 bidding, if some countries pledged to support our bid for '22. China? Hard to see the national team there being competitive any time soon. That's got to be a factor -- but, if the possibility means some countries hold back support for the Aussies bid....that would be fantastic! Seems to me that Australia and the USA are the real bidders for '22.

Posted by: fischy | September 11, 2010 12:26 AM | Report abuse

There are two ways to get the WC, one is to be a soccer/football nation, the way Europe or Latin America are. The other way is to be an exotic location that never hosted the Games. Which of these two is the US? The answer of course is nether, so there.

Posted by: lespaw | September 11, 2010 2:13 AM | Report abuse

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