Friday, October 16, 2009

New U.S. World Cup petition allows fans to support their hometown bid

The Bid Committee for the United States’ effort to land the World Cup in 2018 or 2022 has added a new wrinkle to its online support petition, allowing fans to support one of the 27 cities that are currently in the running to be a host site if the tournament were to be awarded to the States.

The online petition being hosted at has already received 129,000 signatures, but the U.S. Bid team is hoping that the ability to support their hometown will add to the numbers who will sign the petition.

“We anticipate an even greater response as fans across this country are given the opportunity to support the cities where they were born, live, work or play,” David Downs, Executive Director of the USA Bid Committee, said in a press release on Friday afternoon. “The 27 American cities and 32 stadiums still under consideration to be included in our bid are all outstanding in their own way. The passion their citizens exhibit towards the opportunity to potentially play host to FIFA World Cup matches will be one of the many factors that we will consider throughout our ongoing selection process.”

Tampa’s Raymond James Stadium is one of the facilities under consideration, with a group of local business leaders headed by former Tampa Bay Rowdie Farrukh Quraishi preparing the presentation for the U.S. Bid committee. Quraishi was the venue executive when Orlando hosted games at the 1994 World Cup, and believe the petition is an attempt to show FIFA how much the viewership and passion for the game of soccer has grown in the U.S. in the past 15 years.

“Even though we have so many other sports, I think there is a perception that soccer takes a back-seat to these other sports,” Quraishi said. “But there is a large segment of the population that we all believe has an interest in seeing soccer, and I think that’s evidenced by the fact that the largest demand for tickets to the World Cup next year in South Africa outside of South Africa has come from the United States.”

If bay area fans do want to throw their support behind Tampa as a location for a potential upcoming World Cup, they would be advised to do so soon. The Tampa bid committee will head to New York on Nov.10 to make its presentation to the U.S. Committee along with the other cities vying for a bid, after which a decision will be as to which 18 facilities will be included in the U.S. bid that will be submitted to FIFA. If Tampa is selected, FIFA delegations would visit the area next year, with the announcement of the host countries for both 2018 and 2022 being made in December 2010.

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