TORONTO – With the US World Cup bid in the final stretch ahead of FIFA’s Dec. 2 announcement of the 2018 and 2022 hosts, MLS Commissioner Don Garber announced that the league and its marketing arm, Soccer United Marketing, will make a $2 million donation to the US Bid Committee.
“We hope it will help our federation to be able to use additional resources both to build the sport but also to bring home the bid in the next couple of weeks,” Garber said at a US Bid Committee luncheon on Friday.
“We recognize that the league has an enormous amount to gain should the World Cup come to the United States, not just with what we could do to build our league further and get more deeply connected with fans and help develop more players, but also the obvious benefits that will come with having that 12-year run-up.”
MLS has supported the bid by providing assistance with marketing and promotion while also housing US bid staff at the league office in New York. Two MLS owners and Garber are also on the World Cup Bid Committee.
For the first time, US Soccer President Sunil Gulati commented on the suspension of two members of the FIFA Executive Committee this week ahead of the vote to determine the World Cup hosts. The US now has to convince at least 12 of the remaining 22 members to vote for the American bid.
“It’s going to be 12 votes instead of 13, so it’s going to be easier,” Gulati said. “I don’t think it changes the game dramatically for us.
“They went a long way in trying to bring order to the process and make sure the process was fair. I’m confident that this will be a fair process.”
On Friday, the full FIFA evaluation reports for each bid were released and Gulati addressed the issue of government guarantees, which was flagged by the world governing body.
“Because of the federative nature of our government, we were not able to sign the guarantees in the exact form that FIFA wanted,” Gulati said. “But they’re quite comfortable with the guarantees we’ve given them.”
In addition, Gulati said that should the US win the bid, it would consider any new facilities that are constructed before 2022. He also said that he expected World Cup finalists to establish their base camp in Canada.
With a European country guaranteed to host the 2018 World Cup, the 2022 event is being contested between CONCACAF and Asian confederations. That plays into the US’ favor, according to Gulati.
“FIFA’s system, in terms of its rotation policy, is based on confederations,” he said. “Asia has had a recent World Cup in 2002. From that perspective, if you follow the rotation policy – a policy of fairness – it needs to come back to CONCACAF.”
Aside from the infrastructure, the US believes FIFA values a very important aspect of the American bid: the size of the country.
“The legacy, the upside of a market like a country like the United States, to be more engaged in the world’s game, is something that is unique and extraordinary,” Gulati said. “One of our goals is to go from 100 million who watch the World Cup to 200 million. There aren’t many countries who are bidding that can do that. Size matters.”