[WORLD CUP 2018/2022] U.S. President Barack Obama met with FIFA President Sepp Blatter Monday to discuss soccer, in particular the U.S. bid for the 2018 or 2022 World Cup. Blatter reportedly joked that while Obama, who was presented with soccer balls for daughters and tried juggling a ball, wasn't ready to make the U.S. national team that played Brazil in the recent Confederations Cup final, he could have made the team that lost to Mexico, 5-0, in the Gold Cup final ...
Blatter also presented Obama a ball from last month's Confederations Cup final the USA lost to Brazil, 3-2, after leading, 2-0, at halftime. Showing he has just as good sense of humor as Obama, Blatter joked that the ball was from the first half. (Recently, Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva presented Obama with a Brazil jersey from the game, and Obama later replied that the next time the USA and Brazil met the Americans wouldn't blow a two-goal lead.)
Blatter, who was in the United States to attend the 2009 Gold Cup final, invited Obama to attend the 2010 World Cup in South Africa.
Obama's press secretary, former N.C. State goalie Robert Gibbs, said he personally would love to attend the World Cup but added that "scheduling has warned me not to accept unilaterally."
While Blatter remained noncommittal on the 2018 and 2022 World Cups, his visit to the United States and to meet Obama is a big boost for the U.S. bid.
Blatter attended a sellout crowd for the USA-Mexico final at Giants Stadium and toured the new Meadowlands Stadium.
There have been huge crowds in recent weeks for international games, a testament to the support and huge facilities that exist in the United States.
In an interview with AP on Sunday, Blatter pressed U.S. soccer officials to improve the level of play in MLS, suggesting them need to switch the season from a spring-fall sport to fall-spring sport so as to fall in line with most of the rest of the world.
"If they want to be called a major league ... and have this impact of other major leagues like American football, baseball and the NBA, I think they are far away in quality," he said. "I think with the number of participants on the youth level, they should try to do it. For the national team, they are not the only one with players mostly not playing inside the country. It's the same as Brazil and Argentina, who have most of their players in Europe. It can't help football in the U.S. if the heroes and stars are not playing here. How can the youth identify with the game?"
Sepp Blatter's interview with AP: