(Soccer America provides ongoing coverage of the 2018/2022 World Cup bid process.)
By Paul Kennedy, Editor in Chief
When it comes to folks who carry weight abroad, few American political figures can match Arnold Schwarzenegger, California's Austrian-born governor who joined the board of directors of the USA Bid Committee seeking to bring the World Cup to the United States in 2018 or 2022.
It is said Schwarzenegger's father wanted him to become a soccer player but Arnold chose instead to go into body-building. He gained worldwide fame as an actor in the 1980s and entered politics in 2003, replacing Gray Davis as governor of California in a recall election.
"Soccer is the world's most popular sport and California has been home to some of its most exciting games," said Schwarzenegger, "and I am proud to be a part of bringing the World Cup back to the United States."
The finals of all three U.S.-hosted World Cups took place in California -- the 1994 World Cup and 1999 Women's World Cup at the Rose Bowl in Pasadena and 2003 Women's World Cup at the Home Depot Center in Carson.
"Governor Schwarzenegger is a passionate and committed leader in all the projects he takes on," said Sunil Gulati, the Chairman of the USA Bid Committee and President of U.S. Soccer. "California is a soccer state in every sense of the word, with participation and avid support at all levels, from its vast youth system to the professional ranks. We look forward to working with Governor Schwarzenegger in our effort to bring the World Cup back to the United States in 2018 or 2022."
Schwarzenegger's ability to help the U.S. bid in the short term will be limited by the difficult task he faces eliminating California's multi-billion dollar budget deficit.
In an era of Democratic political power, the Bid Committee's board of directors has a bipartisan look. Former Democratic National Committee National Finance Chair Philip Murphy was one of the initial board members announced earlier this year.
Schwarzenegger is a Republican, as is former U.S. Secretary of State Henry A. Kissinger, who is also serving on the bid committee.
WHAT THEY'RE SAYING
"Either one of our candidates from this region, certainly on a comparative basis to the rest of the world, will shine favorably. Therefore, we have every confidence to believe that we will be successful in our quest."
-- American Chuck Blazer, the Concacaf general secretary and FIFA executive committee member, on the USA or Mexico landing the 2018 or 2022 World Cups. (AP)
Ilona IV docks in the Bahamas
[FIFA CONGRESS] The 59th FIFA Congress began Tuesday in Nassau, Bahamas, to the music of the Royal Bahamas Police Force Marching Band.
While there was a FIFA ban on public displays of lobbying for the 2018 and 2022 World Cups, the 11 candidates certainly had a presence in the Bahamas.
Perhaps the most luxurious was the 240-foot yacht Ilona IV Frank Lowy, the chairman of Australia's soccer federation, brought into Bahamian waters to hold lobbying activities, according to the Age.
Lowy, the inspirational figure in Australia's World Cup bid, made his fortune in shopping malls -- the Westfield Group is the largest real estate group in the world -- and named the $100 million yacht after his mother.