The FIFA World Cup is quickly approaching, and countries around the world are gearing up to watch their teams compete. Although football (soccer) is not as popular in the U.S. as it is worldwide, attention to the sport is growing. This year, American fans are getting ready to cheer on their team, especially with recent news that they may have something even bigger to look forward to in 2018 or 2022- the hope of hosting the tournament for the second time. Germany, France, Italy and Mexico are the only countries to have ever hosted twice in the tournament’s almost 80 year history. This time around, Bill Clinton’s chief advisor, Doug Band is giving the U.S. a serious chance at becoming 5th on this list.
Band is the latest addition to the Board of Directors for the U.S. Bid Committee. While the magnitude of the World Cup enticed a lot of high profile individuals to join the Board of Directors (such as, NYC Mayor Michael Bloomberg, California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger, and Former U.S. Secretary of State Henry Kissinger, etc), having the relatively lower profiled Doug Band as the face of the committee may just give the U.S. their biggest bargaining chip yet.
Band has helped implement philanthropic initiatives in over 170 countries. His work through the Clinton Global Initiative (CGI) has helped raise millions of dollars for relief efforts thus touching thousands of lives. His reputation precedes him throughout other countries and he is respected by them for his efforts. Having him represent the U.S. Bid will help promote America as a great location to host the World Cup by highlight his international endeavors and demonstrating the embrace Americans have for diverse cultures.
For Band, this is nothing short of a win-win situation. First of all, Band happens to be a soccer fan and it’s always great when you can participate in something you’ve always had a passion for. More importantly, Doug Band is heavily involved in the political industry and currently one of the hottest topics happens to be the economy. It’s no secret that one guaranteed outcome of hosting the World Cup is that the city hosting the games will benefit immensely from the surge of tourists stimulating the local and regional economy. Many improvements will likely be made in preparation for the influx of media coverage and visitors alike. Those benefits will, in turn, extend to the national economy. Therefore, by joining the Board of Directors, Band is jointly responsible for a unique effort that could help ignite a weakened American economy if the World Cup is successfully brought stateside. Ultimately, taking advantage of the opportunity to join the U.S. Bid Committee gives Doug Band the chance to make a real impact on thousands of American lives and really make a name for himself here on his home turf.
Winning the World Cup bid could also help extinguish any negative sentiments that may still be lingering as a result of the unsuccessful attempt by the U.S. (Chicago) to land the Olympics a few months ago. Regardless of the sport’s relative lack of followers currently here in the states, to have the event back in the US would undoubtedly unite the nation and spark much more American interest in the sport – bringing them one step closer to fully engaging in the “globe’s game.” As proof of this argument, the first time the U.S. won the bid to host the World Cup (1994) the games attracted the largest attendance ever (and still holds the record), for a single U.S. sporting event with 3.6 million in attendance, and 16.9 million American viewers watching from home.
There are a total of 9 other countries bidding for 2018 and 2022, including the likes of Indonesia, Russia, and Australia. The decision for both years will be made when FIFA’s executive committee meets in December 2010, after visiting all locations to be considered. Until then, Americans will remain hopeful about the opportunity to host the World Cup in 2018 or 2022 while cheering on this year’s team.
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Written by Regina Phallan