By Paul Kennedy, Editor in Chief
America's most famous soccer fan
USA. Long before American soccer had celebrity fans like Drew Carey, Spike Lee or Kobe Bryant, there was Dr. Henry Kissinger. Long before it was fashionable to follow soccer, Kissinger was America's most famous soccer fan. His appointment to the USA Bid Committee marks the third time in the last quarter century he has been involved in a U.S. effort.
Kissinger served as chairman of the bid committee for U.S. Soccer's s unsuccessful bid for the 1986 World Cup and of 16-member advisory panel that oversaw the bid process during U.S. Soccer's successful bid for the 1994 World Cup. In 1977, shortly after departing as Secretary of State, he was named chairman of the North American Soccer League's Board of Governors.
In the late 1970s, Kissinger, who has been credited with helping bring Pele to the NASL in 1975, was as much a celebrity as political figure and a close friend of the late Ertegun brothers, Ahmet and Nesuhi, music moguls and soccer fanatics themselves.
Kissinger developed a life-long love of soccer during his childhood in Fuerth in his native Germany, writing of his father's despair of his son who "preferred to stand for two hours (there were very few seats) watching a soccer game rather than sit in the comfort at the opera or be protected from the elements in a museum."
Kissinger later became a big baseball -- and New York Yankees -- fan after fleeing Germany for London and then New York in 1938, but he has always held a great fascination for soccer.
While watching on television the France-Switzerland game at the 2006 World Cup, he spoke of how "soccer is more of an unrelenting drama, with no timeouts, commercials or water breaks, and limited opportunity for substitutions. When it comes to soccer, savoring its ebbs and flows of frustration, elation and ultimately exhaustion, soccer gets me at a relatively high pitch of attention."
USA Bid Committee Members:
Sunil Gulati (chairman), President, U.S. Soccer
Dan Flynn, CEO, U.S. Soccer
Don Garber, Commissioner, MLS
U.S. committee hires P.R. firm Fleishman-Hillard
USA. Fleishman-Hillard International Communications has been hired by the USA Bid Committee to oversee its public relations and communications programs in its efforts to secure the 2018 or 2022 World Cup.
Fleishman-Hillard, headquartered in St. Louis with 31 offices in the United States and 80 worldwide, has a long history of involvement in soccer.
"Representing the USA Bid Committee, U.S. Soccer and our national effort to bring the world's greatest sporting event to the United States is both a great privilege and a high responsibility for Fleishman-Hillard," said Dave Senay, president and CEO of Fleishman-Hillard. "We share the absolute commitment of the U.S. Soccer family and the Bid Committee to return the FIFA World Cup tournament to the United States. We look forward to getting down to work."
Blatter limits lobbying efforts in 2009
POLITICS FIX. FIFA President Sepp Blatter wants to limit lobbying efforts this year by countries bidding to host the World Cup in 2018 and 2022.
"There shall be no exhibitions of the candidature until the [2010 FIFA] Congress in South Africa," Blatter said.
The move is an effort to limit lobbying during the busy 2009 international calendar, which includes the FIFA Congress May 31-June 3 in the Bahamas, the Confederations Cup in South Africa and world youth championships in Egypt and Nigeria later in the year.
Each of the 11 bidders can have three accredited people attend these events.
WHAT THEY'RE SAYING
"A World Cup in Qatar in 2022 would be the first global sports event to be hosted in the region. What could be more fitting than it being the world's favorite game that achieves this truly historic status?"
-- Sheikh Mohammed bin Hamad bin Khalifa Al Thani, the son of the Qatari emir and chairman of the Qatari World Cup 2018/2022 bid committee.
The green factor
INDONESIA. Perhaps no country is a longer shot to host the 2018 or 2022 World Cups than Indonesia. At 137, it is the lowest-ranked team in the current FIFA/Coca Cola World Ranking. Its only participation in the World Cup came in 1938 when it was the Dutch East Indies.
Indonesia hopes to sell its World Cup as a "Green World Cup 2022."
"Our deforestation rate has contributed much to world pollution," said Soccer Association of Indonesia (PSSI) chairman Nurdin Halid said. "By hosting the World Cup, we wish to build infrastructure and facilities that are environmentally friendly so we can give more to the planet."
Indonesia's plans include the construction of 10 new stadiums by 2015 in Surabaya, Makassar, Medan, Tangerang, Yogyakarta and Gianyar to complement its three existing stadiums, Gelora Bung Karno in Jakarta, Gelora Sriwijaya in Palembang and Palaran in Samarinda.
In 2007, Nurdin was convicted of corruption in connection with the Indonesian government's distribution of cooking oil and sentenced to two years in jail. He refused to step down as PSSI chairman and was granted parole (along with 240 others found guilty of corruption) by Indonesia's Justice Ministry in a controversial decision in 2008.
FIFA/Coca-Cola World Ranking
1 Spain-10 Portugal
3 Netherlands-49 Belgium
44 South Korea