After the failure of Team USA to beat Ghana and advance in the World Cup tournament, most thought that Americans would wait until 2014 until they started paying attention to soccer again. But Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand and a number of Republican colleagues aren’t wiling to let soccer fade into obscurity!
She and a few colleagues from both sides of the aisle sent a letter to FIFA President Sepp Blatter today to try to convince him to allow America to host the World Cup in 2018 or 2022. Part of their sales pitch is America’s vast immigrant population, and their dedication to watching their home country teams battle it out on U.S. soil.
Gillibrand is joined in her Cup quest by an interesting, bipartisan group of Senators including Michael Bennet (D-CO), Kit Bond (R-MO), Scott Brown (R-MA), Sam Brownback (R-KS), Maria Cantwell (D-WA), Ben Cardin (D-MD), Bob Casey (D-PA), Saxby Chambliss (R-GA), Bob Corker (R-TN), Johnny Isakson (R-GA), John Kerry (D-MA), Frank Lautenberg (D-NJ), George LeMieux (R-FL), Richard Lugar (R-IN), Claire McCaskill (D-MO), Bob Menendez (D-NJ), Jeff Merkley (D-OR), Patty Murray (D-WA), Bill Nelson (D-FL), Jack Reed (D-RI), Pat Roberts (R-KS), Chuck Schumer (D-NY), Arlen Specter (D-PA), Ron Wyden (D-OR) and Mark Udall (D-CO). It’s fair to say that Bond, Chambliss, Corker, Isakson and Roberts are hardly known for their pro-immigrant policy stances — to the contrary, they often oppose even the mildest efforts to reform the immigration system to encourage openness, recognize the contributions made by immigrants or ease their transition into American society.
The group wrote Blatter in an effort not just to convince him that Americans will love to watch and will happily invite those of other nations to join us — but that Americans from elsewhere will root for other teams. They said, “Our diverse population ensures that there are individuals from every country in the world eager to see their home country’s team play at their local stadium.” It’s likely the only letter you’ll read from Bond, Chambliss Corker, Isakson or Roberts in which they trumpet our nation’s diversity and our soccer-loving immigrants.
The full letter is below.
Dear President Blatter,
As we stand captivated by the exciting events taking place across South Africa, we write in strong support of the United States’ bids to host the FIFA World Cup in either 2018 or 2022. We can think of no better way to show America’s enthusiasm for the sport than to again play gracious host to the world’s athletes and spectators in the coming years. With memories of the successful World Cup in 1994, we hope to be given the opportunity to provide the coming generation with an event that is greater in scale and grander than any before.
As you know, the 1994 World Cup was held in cities spanning the American landscape from the Atlantic to the Pacific and many places in between. More than 3.5 million fans from every corner of the nation and globe came to watch the greatest sporting event in the world played in amongst the greatest venues in the world. The average number of attendees at these matches, about 68,000, was larger than any average World Cup audience there ever was or has been since. America’s first World Cup was a great success; we hope that a chance to repeat will be in the near future.
The current bids expand on this great potential by spreading the event out amongst 18 cities and 21 stadiums, all but two of which will be or currently are amongst the 100 largest stadiums in the world. Further, the size, diversity and number of cities spanning our country will allow the largest portion of Americans and visitors to have access to the sporting events. With a population of 300 million people, we assure you that there will be no lack of fans clamoring to attend the matches. Attending the matches will be no difficult feat either, as the United States features significant transportation and tourism infrastructure that will enable visitors to attend games with great ease.
Additionally, the United States maintains infrastructure that can afford the stresses of holding an internationally-attended sporting event. America has hosted several Olympic Games in its history as well as the CONCACAF Gold Cup every year since 1985. Even the sport itself is growing as American Major League Soccer is undergoing an expansion. As visitors from across the globe come to the United States, we stand well prepared to answer all their needs. As always, we relish the opportunity to showcase our enthusiasm for this sport and hope that Americans will be given a chance to display their passion.
Finally, the United States is a nation consisting largely of individuals from all over the globe. Our diverse population ensures that there are individuals from every country in the world eager to see their home country’s team play at their local stadium. The World Cup’s message is one of inclusion and international harmony; the United States wants to stand with the people of the world in the celebration of this great sport.
We hope that you will consider the United States’ bid with utmost seriousness and we hope to see you in the United States in either 2018 or 2022.