By Paul Kennedy, Editor in Chief
Landon Donovan and Mia Hamm, the most recognizable names of U.S. men's and women's soccer, have joined the USA Bid Committee that is seeking to bring the World Cup to the United States in 2018 or 2022.
Donovan, the all-time leading scorer for the U.S. men's national team at the age of 27 and the five-time winner of the Honda Player of the Year award, and Hamm, winner of two Women's World Cups and two Olympic gold medals, will join the committee as board members.
"The U.S. Soccer Federation has been an instrumental part of my development as a soccer player for more than a decade," said Donovan, "so it's an honor for me to be asked to join the USA Bid to host the FIFA World Cup in 2018 or 2022. I was too young to play in the World Cup this country hosted in 1994, but all of us playing in MLS know it was the success of that event that laid the foundation for our league. I look forward to doing whatever I can to help bring the World Cup back to the United States."
Hamm played in two U.S.-hosted Women's World Cups, winning in 1999.
"I'm honored to join the USA Bid Committee Board of Directors and do my part to raise awareness about our bid to host the 2018 or 2022 FIFA World Cup and our country's overall passion and support for the game," said Hamm. "As someone who has played in two Women's World Cups on American soil - one of which we had the extreme satisfaction of winning in front of a home crowd - I know just how great a host this country can be for international soccer at its highest level of competition."
Rival bidders are lining up soccer personalities to back their bids. England brought out David Beckham as the star attraction of its 2018 World Cup bid launch at Wembley. Russia is hoping to secure the support of Dutchman Guus Hiddink, its national team coach, for its bid.
Grassroots programs threatened?
[ENGLAND] With the British government reluctant to contribute to England's bid for the 2018 World Cup, the English Football Association may be forced to cut back on its grassroots initiatives to fund the bid, according to the People.
The FA's bid budget is $16 million and it says it needs another $8 million for the bid process that will conclude in December 2010. It may be forced to cut programs from the $320 million grassroots initiative it launched last year. The money was intended to underwrite field projects, support referee programs and fund amateur tournaments.
"We must ensure grassroots sport is protected," a British government source told the People.
The England bid has the support of British Prime Minister Gordon Brown, who was at the recent bid launch with Beckham and Wayne Rooney.
WHAT THEY'RE SAYING
"This bid is no joke, we've been planning it for a long time -- this is a serious bid. Everyone is crazy about football in Indonesia. People will come to all the games and we have what it takes to host the tournament. This bid will open everyone's eyes to Indonesia."
-- Nugraha Besoes, general secretary of Indonesia's soccer federation, on his country's longshot bid for the 2018/2022 World Cups. (Reuters)
Unity bid launched
[QATAR] The Arab emirate of Qatar is positioning is World Cup 2022 bid -- it is not bidding on 2018 -- as an effort to promote greater unity between the Arab and Western worlds.
A sell-out crowd of 50,000 was on hand at the Khalifa International Stadium in Doha for the launch of the Qatari bid by Sheikh Mohammed bin Hamad bin Khalifa Al-Thani.
"Qatar 2022 is a bid on behalf of the whole region," bin Khalifa said. "The first global sports event in the Middle East provides an opportunity for greater understanding and unity between the Arab and Western worlds and can inspire enthusiastic support from football fans young and old across the entire region. The unwavering resolution of the Qatari people and the government -- to modernize, to advocate for peace, to build for the future -- is like the iron will of an athlete in pursuit of victory."
Qatar's bid has considerable political clout, but the lack of facilities and its extreme heat in the summer make Qatar a longshot.