Monday, May 11, 2009
Open Letter to Sepp Blatter - re: USA World Cup Bids
Dear Mr. Sepp Blatter, FIFA President,
The USA seems pretty determined to host the World Cup again in either 2018 or 2022. On the surface, the bid is strong. They have tremendous state-of-the-art stadiums used for the NFL, which can easily be adapted to accommodate the world's game. Even the President of the United States has written a letter to you, FIFA President Sepp Blatter, in support of the American bid. That is a little misleading since I'm sure the leader of every country in the bid process has written a letter to Blatter stating their support for their country's bid. Why wouldn't they? It's an economic benefit for them to do so. Let us also not forget that the President is also supporting the Chicago Olympic bid, so it seems doubtful that the World Cup is that much more special to him or is just a political tool.
So while the bid seems strong in terms of support of "big names" and stadia, here's what I don't like: it's going to be difficult and expensive for the average fan. While some (the wealthy) will be able to travel around to a variety of matches, most will be stuck in one city not able to travel to multiple locations, see the country and enjoy its atmosphere.
As an example of the potential difficulties, let's look at the Gold Cup that will played in the U.S. this summer and the travel schedule of a fan who wants to follow the Canadian National Team. Starting with a game in Carson, California, he or she must then trek to Columbus, Ohio, and follow that up with a trip to Miami, Florida. That's not the easiest travel schedule for a team, let alone a fan trying to follow his favourite country. Some countries have an easier time: from Oakland to Houston to Phoenix. But hardly easy travel. In most cases, flights are required and flights are not cheap.
The second problematic thing is the fact that, despite being one of the biggest events in the World, in the United States will the majority of people care if England plays Brazil, or Italy faces Germany? Or will they rather care who wins in a face-off between the Red Sox and Yankees? Baseball is full swing during the tournament and will take away some of the lustre of the World Cup. The NBA and NHL playoffs will also be coming to an end. We also have your major golf tournaments taking place on the PGA tour. Too many distractions from other sports for my liking in a time when only one should be king.
I've been to three World Cups since 1994, missing only the '98 tournament in France. I've seen league games in England, Italy and Germany. The worst World Cup I actually took in was USA '94. In Europe, and even during the Japan and Korea games of 2002, the ease of travel to any game is amazing, even if it's across the country. Also, the best part of the latter World Cups of Germany and Japan/Korea and the league games in Europe is the atmosphere. Not only are the stadiums buzzing with energy and excitement, but the entire country is alive with talk and excitement of the World Cup. It gripped those countries. This wasn't the case in the US in 1994 and I don't think it will be the case in either 2018 or 2022.
I would love to see the World Cup in England in 2018 and Australia in 2022. If one of those two countries don't win, I would like to see Spain/Portugal or Belgium/Netherlands, although Belgium needs to step up their performances to show that taking away two European spots is the way to go.
So here's my open letter to you, Mr. FIFA President Sepp Blatter. Keep the World Cup out of Americans hands. Let's keep it in Europe, or Asia or Australia.
Of course, I know you will screw me and the USA will probably get one of the two available World Cups in 2018 or 2022, and I'll be bitter for an entire month.