Sometime later this morning, the executive committee for the Fédération Internationale de Football Association (FIFA) will hand down its decision on which country will host the 2018 and 2022 World Cups.
With soccer-hungry, hooligan-ridden countries like England, Russia, Netherlands, Belgium, Spain and Portugal in the running, you may be asking yourself why this vote is relevant to the United States, and more specifically, the city of Atlanta.
Of course, many of you already know the reason why this vote is of the utmost importance to those residing here in the ATL —based on your defense of what I considered to be an underwhelming turnout at the Aaron's International Soccer Challenge back in July.
But for those of you who are unaware of the United States' involvement in all of this—which is most likely a large majority—Atlanta is one of 18 U.S. cities that will be vying for one of 12 host locations if the USA is ultimately awarded the 2022 World Cup.
Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed has been politicking for Atlanta's inclusion in the World Cup for awhile, but he, and the rest of the city, will have to wait a few more hours to find out if the world's most captivating sporting event (arguably) will make its way to the ATL.
The United States is considered by many to be the front-runner for the 2022 Cup, and the fact that the U.S. pulled its name out of the running for the 2018 Cup back in October could be a positive indication that the U.S. will be awarded the 2022 version.
The competition for the 2022 Cup isn't all that stiff either. Australia, Japan/South Korea and Qatar don't have the richest soccer histories—kind of like the U.S.—and don't have the infrastructure of large, available stadiums necessary to host a global event such as the World Cup.
It also doesn't hurt that former President Bill Clinton, U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder, USA soccer superstar Landon Donovan and the always persuasive Morgan Freeman were all on-hand in Zurich, Switzerland on Wednesday to state the States' claim to the 2022 World Cup in front of FIFA executives.
So, what would it mean for the city of Atlanta to host a World Cup? I'll let you know in a few hours (or I'll just bitch about why the U.S. wasn't chosen to host).
(More details to come after the announcement...)
Although many speculated that the United States would be chosen as the host site for the 2022 World Cup, it appears that people around the world still hate us.
Qatar—a nation with only 1.7 million inhabitants that has never even qualified for the tournament—was awarded the 2022 Cup on Thursday morning. Thus, proving that U.S. citizens will have to stop buying Hummers, eating McDonald's for every meal and refrain from supporting reality shows such as I Love Money, My Super Sweet 16 or The Real Housewives of (insert city) before the world takes us seriously again.
At least seriously enough to allow us to host another world event.
Since hosting the 1994 World Cup, the United States has—before this year—hardly gotten a sniff at hosting another despite the great success of the '94 Tournament.
The 68,991 average attendance for each match during the 1994 Cup is still the highest match average in World Cup history, despite the Cup's expansion from 52 to 64 matches in 1998.
Of course, this snubbing comes as little surprise to me simply based on the fact that no one thinks the United States is serious about soccer.
The Georgia Dome—Atlanta's "most attractive" soccer venue—was more than half empty over the summer when the Aaron's International Soccer Challenge made its way back to the city.
And while that poor turnout alone didn't cost the U.S. the 2022 World Cup, it certainly was a bad omen for how the world views our overall
interest disinterest in soccer compared to other, less equipped countries.
Despite Atlanta's global appeal, the Dome will be celebrating its 30th birthday when 2022 rolls around and holding matches inside isn't very appealing to the soccer traditionalists—not to mention that hauling in 77,625 square feet of grass sod for every match simply wouldn't work.
It's great to hear Mayor Kasim Reed's desire to bring a World Cup to Atlanta, but how attractive of a candidate can we truly be for an international soccer competition if we can't even generate enough interest domestically?
Regardless of the city's immense cultural diversity, Atlanta's sports diversity—outside of football, baseball and basketball—simply isn't up to snuff.
I truly do hate to say, 'I told you so', but we just missed out on an opportunity to host the world's most significant sporting event thanks in large part to our cultural arrogance and sporting narcissism.
I guess there's always 2026.
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