World Cup Bid Is Hurry Up And Wait
By Zachary S. Fagenson
They came, they saw, we wait.
After visiting Miami and four other cities proposed to host matches during the 2018 and 2022 World Cup, officials from the Fédération Internationale de Football Association
(FIFA), the sport’s international governing body, are back in Switzerland deciding which nation will host the coming tournaments.
"This group is… writing their reports on each of the candidates and those reports will be given to the 24 executive committee members," said Jurgen Mainka, director of communications for the USA Bid Committee. "They will evaluate those technical presentations and obviously some will read the [cities’] bid books.
"Between now and the [Dec. 2] decision, it’s all about our board members, our chairman, really visiting with these 24 members making sure we present the bid as best we can," he added.
The evaluation team spent a mere three hours this month in Miami-Dade, visiting Sun Life stadium as well as the Miami Beach Convention Center, the proposed location for the final draw, which sets the tournament’s initial matches.
FIFA’s evaluation team also saw facilities in New York City, Dallas, Houston and Washington, DC.
"It gets a little bit tougher now because we don’t have any of those big mile markers to hit between now and then," said Mike Sophia, executive director of the Miami-Dade Sports Commission.
In May the local bid committee submitted a 1,250-page report to the national committee to be included in its bid book and had since been preparing for the recent visit.
Once host countries are announced, they’ll have to pare down the 18 cities submitted in each nation’s pitch to a final 12.
County Commissioner José "Pepe" Diaz, who chairs the sports commission, said he felt confident in Miami’s presentation and stands ready to fulfill any requests from the national bid committee.
"The bottom line is we’re just waiting to see what the USA bid committee wants to do," he said. "I think they were very happy with what we presented, between the stadium and convention center.
"I think we went all out for them and hopefully [FIFA] will do the same," he added.
In a previous interview Mr. Diaz likened the economic impact of hosting World Cup matches to having a Super Bowl played every day for a month.
The only remaining thing the local and national bid committees seem able to do is continue to push for support for the tournament through an online petition.
Nationally, signatures recently passed the 1 million mark set by USA Soccer team captain Landon Donovan shortly after this year’s tournament in South Africa.
As of Sept. 13, Miami sat in second place with 71,712 signatures. Houston led with 75,018 and Philadelphia was third with 68,079.
Though the petition may play a role in deciding the final 12 cities, the decision would come well after the host nation is selected.
"It’s a process between FIFA and local organizing committees, and traditionally the final 12 cities are announced five years ahead of that actual competition," Mr. Mainka said. "For Brazil 2014 the actual host cities were announced in November 2009."