The Full 90

How the U.S. (and KC) sold a World Cup bid

FIFA's World Cup inspectors wrapped up a three-day, five-city visit last week as they weigh potential venues for the 2018 and 2022 tournaments. The inspectors visit included a whirlwind presentation in New York by all 18-potential host cities, a stop at the White House and visited potential host stadiums in New York, Washington, D.C., Miami, Houston and Dallas.

OnGoal's vice president of development, and KC's bid director, David Ficklin was in New York earlier to pitch Kansas City as a potential host venue.

With such a short visit of only four days, many of the host cities had to "come to FIFA." In addition to providing information about the city and Arrowhead Stadium, Kansas City's bid features a proposed fan fest that would take place between Liberty Memorial and Union Station.

"We didn't even have to give them a hard sell. The United States is in a fantastic position," Ficklin said. "We don't need to build the stadiums, we don't need to build airports, the telecommunications infrastructure. We could host the World Cup this afternoon and sell out every stadium."

FIFA's executive committee votes on both hosts Dec. 2. While the U.S. is officially bidding for either World Cup, its best shot is for 2022. Europe has long been considered the favorite for the 2018 World Cup, and FIFA President Sepp Blatter did nothing to counter that in a recent interview with German weekly Sport-Bild.

If selected, the individual host cities won't be determined for a few years. Until then, you can sign the U.S. bid petition at www.goUSAbid.com/KC or text "KansasCity" to 22442. The more votes Kansas City gets, the more attention KC will get as a potential host city.

England, Russia, Spain-Portugal and Belgium-Netherlands have bid for 2018. The U.S. is up against Australia, Japan, Qatar and South Korea for 2022.

Even Henry Kissinger, a member of the U.S. bid committee, said it's "reasonable" that the World Cup returns to Europe in 2018. The World Cup was in South Africa this year, and will be held in Brazil in 2014.

Sunil Gulati, head of the U.S. World Cup bid committee, was asked to compare this effort with Chicago's failed bid for the 2016 Olympics. Gulati says the process is different, and that this committee is putting together a proposal that he hopes FIFA will find "irresistible."

Harold Mayne-Nicholls, the head of the inspection delegation, said the group gathered all the necessary information to present a complete report to FIFA's executive committee. He said he was confident that the U.S. could fulfill all the necessary standards set by FIFA to host the World Cup.

"All the stadiums we have visited, with some very small adjustments, would be great World Cup venues. There is no doubt about that," Mayne-Nicholls said. "We have seen a number of excellent locations. All requirements and expectations should be met."

The fields at all potential sites can be widened to meet international standards if the U.S. is awarded either the 2018 or 2022 tournament, FIFA's World Cup inspectors were assured this week. The fields at NFL stadiums are generally smaller than the 75 yards FIFA prefers, and several games were played on slightly narrower fields during the 1994 World Cup.

Gulati told Mayne-Nicholls that the next World Cup here would likely set records for attendance, ticket sales and international visitors. More than 3.6 million fans attended matches when the United States hosted the World Cup in 1994, still a record.

Gulati doesn't see a negative in the fact that the U.S. is lobbying for its second World Cup in three decades, while Australia and Qatar are vying for their first.

"I don't think hosting a successful event and setting multiple records should be a disadvantage," Gulati said. "It will have been 28 years, if it's 2022. Clearly, that's an issue for some, going out to new and uncharted water, but we think there's some advantages.

"FIFA knows we can do this, we've done it well, and we can do it again."

The Associated Press contributed to this story.

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