US World Cup bid CEO David Downs says his team have a “few tricks up our sleeves” for FIFA inspectors (US Soccer)

(WFI) US World Cup bid CEO David Downs tells INSIDER that MLS commissioner Don Garber’s four-year contract extension bodes well for his country’s efforts to host the 2018 or 2022 finals.

“It says an awful lot about the progress and success of MLS,” Downs said.

“It’s confirmation of the fact that the league is progressing very nicely, and that’s reflective of how the sport’s progressing in the US.”

Garber’s new deal, worth an estimated $3 million per year, will keep him in the MLS role until 2014. He has been MLS commissioner since 1999.

Up next for USA’s bid will be the announcement of as many as five sponsors in the next two to three weeks, Downs said.

The bid’s revenue is sourced about equally from sponsorships, grassroots donations, U.S. Soccer Federation funding and contributions from several of the more prominent state soccer associations.

As an online petition backing the US bid nears its millionth backer, Downs said the USA has tremendous momentum ahead of next month’s FIFA inspection.

“Even though literally this is a campaign to win the majority of a 24-man voting body [the FIFA executive], it’s very, very important to us that our efforts be well-received and supported by the broad followings of the sport in the US,” he said.

“This is not just the work of the soccer federation but indeed that of everybody who follows the sport here.”

FIFA’s six-man delegation led by Harold Mayne-Nicholls will arrive in New York City on Sept. 6 and will also visit Washington, D.C., Miami and Dallas before departing from Houston on Sept. 9.

The FIFA inspectors will visit Meadowlands Stadium, FedEx Field, Sun Life Stadium, Cowboys Stadium and Reliant Stadium.

“[Scheduling] was a combination of our recommendation based on logistics and the amount of time allotted along with their request to see certain types of facilities,” Downs said, adding that the inspection team wants to see a high-capacity stadium that could host the finals and a convention center that could house the broadcasting center.

Though FIFA
could only squeeze a handful of the bid’s 18 cities onto its four-day itinerary, Downs said the five-city tour is ambitious enough.

“We have a few tricks up our sleeves that will allow some of those cities that we’re missing to get visibility with the inspectors,” he says, likely in reference to the US bid’s “secret weapon” INSIDER reported on in June.

Steve Jobs’s Apple corporation has designed a US bid iPad application to provide easily accessible information to the inspection team and allow its members to get a feel for the 13 prospective host cities.

Qatar bid chief responds to criticism
Qatar 2022 chief executive Hassan Al Thawadi has today hit back at criticism of the Gulf state’s bid for the World Cup.

A report in Britain’s Financial Times a few days ago claimed Qatar was “spending oil money on lobbying” and suggested “few foreigners want a World Cup played in the desert, in indoor stadiums in 40-degree heat. Choosing Qatar would look a choice for money. That would make FIFA look tacky”.

Al Thawadi described as “false” the assertions that Qatar was spending oil money on lobbying and was planning to stage World Cup matches in indoor stadiums.

In a letter to the newspaper published today, he said: “First, the Qatar 2022 bid committee, in co-operation with a talented team of local and international science, technology and environmental experts, has developed the

Hassan Al Thawadi says Qatar’s bid is “playing firmly within FIFA’s rules” (Getty)

capability to cool outdoor stadiums, training grounds, FIFA fan fests/fan zones and walkways from metro stations to venues.

“Players and fans will enjoy temperatures not exceeding 27°C, and all of this will be accomplished using carbon-neutral technology. These cooled outdoor stadiums will be in a concentrated area, allowing fans to see more than one match per day.

“Second, Qatar is a vibrant and dynamic economy, set to grow by up to 20 per cent this year according to some estimates. While petroleum and gas resources are a key part of our growth, they are by no means the only source of revenue.

“Thousands of foreign and domestic companies providing a variety of non-energy related goods and services are based here.

“Furthermore, Qatar’s bid is playing firmly within FIFA’s rules, which include full disclosure of fund disbursement and written notification prior to talking with any FIFA’s executive committee member.”

By Matthew Grayson and
Mark
Bisson

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