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Will Obama go to Zurich in December?
by Paul Kennedy, May 29th, 2010 2:39AM

TAGS:  fifa, men's national team, world cup 2022


[MY VIEW] A personal appeal by President Nicolas Sarkozy to the UEFA executive committee on Friday tipped the balance in favor of France, which won the right to host Euro 2016 in a 7-6 vote over Turkey. It raises the question, will President Barack Obama go to Zurich in early December in support of the USA's bid to host the 2018 or 2022 World Cup?

American soccer has certainly raised its profile in high political circles, what with the U.S. national team's visit to the White House on Thursday, former President Bill Clinton's involvement in the USA Bid Committee as honorary chairman and Vice President Joseph Biden's plans to attend the World Cup.

While the U.S. national team's visit with Obama was short and ceremonial, it was significant that Obama took the time to greet the national team on a critical day to his presidency. Obama held his first press conference in 10 months to talk of the U.S. government's response to the Gulf oil spill.

Obama did travel to Copenhagen where the IOC voted on the host of the 2016 Summer Olympics. His hometown, Chicago, eliminated in the first round of voting. Rio de Janeiro eventually won.

Clinton has been dubbed Obama's "Mr. Fix-it" on several political fronts and appears set to be political point person in the high-stakes campaign to win the right to host the 2018 or 2022 World Cup.

He remains very popular in much of the world, especially in Africa, which will be a "swing vote" in the World Cup campaigns.

But as France won a narrow victory in its Euro 2016 bid, the USA faces a tight race from Qatar and Australia, among others, in its 2022 bid.

In terms of stadiums and infrastructure, the USA has no competition, but Qatar and Australia are backed by powerful and wealthy interests.

UEFA President Michel Platini said the presence of Sarkozy was the difference for France.

"If he hadn't come," Platini said, "Turkey would almost certainly have won."

What will FIFA President Sepp Blatter be saying on Dec. 2?

  1. Fernando Paz
    commented on: May 29, 2010 at 9:12 a.m.
    Please Obama don't go you will ruin it for us like you ruined our Olympic bid. I don't know if Paul Kennedy knows this but the world still hates our President. It does not matter who it is and about obamas "Mr.fix-it" man that is who should go because the world loves Clinton for some reason.
  1. Joe Tregellas
    commented on: May 29, 2010 at 10:53 a.m.
    @Fernando Did PRESIDENT Obama ruin the Olympic bid or was it awarded to Brazil because an Olympics has never been held in South America? And the "world" doesn't hate our president, you do. Keep your silly personal politics out of it.

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