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Soccer: Obama backs US World Cup bid

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United States President Barack Obama has stepped up as the most powerful supporter for the United States’ bid to host the World Cup in 2018 or 2022.
President Obama.
President Obama

Writing to FIFA president Sepp Blatter and US Soccer Federation leader Sunil Gulati, President Obama endorsed the sport’s worldwide outreach.

The US hosted a record-attendance World Cup in 1994 and, Obama noted: "Hosting another successful World Cup is important for the continued growth of the sport in the United States - and it is important to me personally.

"As a child, I played soccer on a dirt road in Jakarta and the game brought the children of my neighbourhood together. As a father, I saw that same spirit of unity alive on the fields and sidelines of my own daughters’ soccer games in Chicago.

"Soccer is truly the world’s sport, and the World Cup promotes camaraderie and friendly competition across the globe. That is why this bid is about much more than a game. It is about the United States of America inviting the world to gather all across our great country in celebration of our common hopes and dreams."

Today is the deadline for stadiums and potential host cities to inform the US bid committee of their interest in sharing hosting duties. The committee last week mailed letters inviting positive responses to 70 stadium operators, as well as public officials in more than 50 cities and regions.

Obama’s letter concluded: "I hope my family will have the opportunity to join millions of other families from around the world to watch soccer’s pre-eminent event here in the United States. I strongly support the work of the USSF to bring the Cup back to the United States, and I look forward to working with FIFA to make it the most successful World Cup competition in history."

In response to that ringing vote of confidence, Gulati said: "We are pleased to have the support of President Obama as we look to bringing the World Cup to the US. With the President’s support, our goal of bringing the global community here to watch the largest sporting event in the world in 2018 or 2022 will no doubt be strengthened.

"We look forward to working with the White House as we continue to develop our bid for the World Cup."

The United States, Australia, England, Indonesia, Japan, Mexico and Russia have formally declared themselves as single candidates along with joint bids from Belgium-Holland and Portugal-Spain. Qatar and South Korea have applied to play host only in 2022.

FIFA has set May 2010 as the deadline for countries to submit their final paperwork and its 24-member executive committee will decide on hosts for both 2018 and 2022 in December 2010.

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