Former U.S. President Bill Clinton has been named honorary chairman of the U.S. bid to host the World Cup in 2018 or 2022. The question is; can a political, and more than likely part-time, figure like Clinton compare with a passionate and committed figure like David Beckham for England’s bid?
Clinton’s reasons for entering the fold are obvious, especially after he stated the following, “That means that if we get the (World Cup) there will be an economic stimulus estimated between $400-$600 million per host city. That will be very good for a lot of families that are still hurting, a lot of communities that are still digging out from under the current economic crisis.”
A former President really has only one thing on their mind once they leave office and that is to cement their legacy. Helping to improve the economy by bringing what may be the world’s greatest event to American soil, could only help him in that effort.
In order to get this bid through, will he do for the US what a passionate soccer legend like David Beckham will do for England? President Clinton is obviously a very influential figure and there is no doubt that he could have a major influence on what happens with this bid, just adding his name to it helps. But what if he was more than just an honorary figure? What if he scratched out just a few visits to some key decision makers and a press conference here or there? He could absolutely make a huge difference.
The two biggest arguments against the United States having a world cup are first; that the country doesn’t need it. It’s true that the United States is in a recession, but the country is still considered to be in comparatively good shape by the rest of the world. The second argument is that the US hosted a world cup only 16 years ago. When the US hosted the 1994 World Cup, the country was still a fairly virgin territory in regards to soccer. Sure, kids played in the leagues across the land and Pele and Beckenbauer stopped by in their twilight years, but at the time there was no pro league and it was predominantly considered a kid’s sport. The World Cup went a long way toward changing that and it has resulted in a boom of excitement in regards to soccer in the United States. The other potential host countries will point that out and say that the US is not in need of another World Cup so soon.
So the US needs the help of a heavy hitter like Clinton, but they need more than his name. They need his charm, his effort and his action. With a suave and charismatic speaker like Clinton reminding key decision makers, in person, of the financial boom that soccer saw internationally after the US World Cup in 1994, the United States has not only a better shot at securing the tournament, but quite possibly a game winning shot. But will the former President give the time?