Soccer  > General Soccer  > World Cup inspection team begins U.S. visit
September 7, 2010, 03:05 PM
NEW YORK - A six-man FIFA delegation began its inspection tour of the United States' proposed venues for the 2018 and 2022 World Cups on Tuesday, setting out on a three-day cross-country jaunt that will highlight what many believe is the bid's best attributes.

Chilean Football Federation President Harold Mayne-Nicholls and his team was to visit the Javits Center convention hall in New York as well as Red Bull Arena and the New Meadowlands Stadium across the Hudson River before travelling Wednesday to Washington for a White House breakfast, then on to Miami, and Dallas and Houston on Thursday, when it will return to FIFA's headquarters in Switzerland.

"We will use these four days to receive as much information as possible for making our report for the Executive Committee members, who on December 2 will take the decision to which countries will host the World Cup in 2018 and 2022,' said Mayne-Nicholls, whose team arrived in New York on Monday.

"We are sure we will receive all the information we need and with that information we also are sure that we will send a very objective report so they can have a strong basis for the decisions they will take."

U.S. Soccer Federation President Sunil Gulati, who hosted a press briefing at the St. Regis hotel in midtown Manhattan to formally send off the Mayne-Nicholls and his FFA panel , detailed that the inspection tour -- which will examine infrastructure from airports to stadia -- won't be as critical to his organization's success as much as convincing FIFA Executive Committee members of the country's other strengths.

With 18 cities and already built stadia to choose from, transportation networks and accommodations already in place and the fact that, according to Gulati's accounting, 22 or 23 of the 24 Executive Committee members already have visited the United States, assuring FIFA of the United States' technical merit is probably the least of its challenges.

"I think some in the international community underestimate the passion for the game in the United States," Gulatisaid. "When we start taking about the landscape in the U.S. they're surprised by it.

"They're surprised that we've got 16 teams and growing in MLS; they're surprised that Americans were the No. 1 ticket buyers for the World Cup; they're surprised that you couldn't get into a lot of bars in major cities across the country at 10 o'clock in the morning to watch World Cup games; they're surprised that the TV rights payment for the World Cup was the single largest in the world. And when you look at all those things in a relatively short time from the 1994 World Cup, it's an extraordinary success story.

"So I think it's important we continue to get that message across."

England, Russia and joint bids from the Netherlands and Belgium as well as Spain and Portugal are vying with the United States for the 2018 World Cup, while for the 2022 tournament, the Americans are competing against Australia, England, the Netherlands-Belgium, Japan, South Korea, Qatar, Russia and Spain-Portugal .

The inspection team has already visited seven of the nine bidding countries with only Qatar to follow the United States.

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