Team USA Boosts Soccer's American Profile

June 29, 2010
Goalkeeper Throws Ball As Team Members Run Past Him During World Cup Match Between U.S. and Ghana

About the Author: Sharon Hudson-Dean serves as the Press Attache at U.S. Embassy Pretoria.

It's all over for the U.S. team, but, more importantly, not for American soccer. We're all picking another team to cheer for in the World Cup finals, yet we also have confidence our team will back on track for Brazil in 2014. A lot of us here will cheer for Ghana. Yes, they beat us, but they did it with strength in overtime, and they are the only African team to move ahead. South Africans celebrated all night long -- my sources tell me the townships were kept up all night by the never-ending vuvuzela choruses.

The U.S. showing, both by the team and by the over 33,000 Americans here now, really boosted soccer's American profile. Our game against Algeria will be long remembered for its Hollywood ending -- Landon Donovan powering in full-steam to finish a goal the Algerian goalkeeper thought he had prevented. It was like watching a big wave of white and green players sweeping toward the goal, and Donovan was a cool surfer on top of them all, sailing into the beach on top of that win. One of my colleagues turned to me and said, “This has got to stop -- I can't take the stress of these games -- my heart has been racing for 90 minutes..."

One visitor who really appreciated that spectacular game, and the Ghana game, was former President Bill Clinton, who came here as a private citizen. Our former president is a well-known quantity in South Africa. His foundation is working especially hard to lower costs for antiretroviral (ARV) drugs for HIV positive patients, which will help support many more individuals on treatment.

But President Clinton is mainly here on this visit, because he is the honorary chairman of the USA Bid Committee. The United States wants to host the World Cup in 2018 or 2022. In December this year, soccer's governing body FIFA will select the two host countries for those years (2014 is in Brazil). The United States is competing against a raft of 10 competitors, including Russia, Australia, Spain-Portugal, and Qatar. Ultimately, the host countries are determined through votes from the FIFA Executive Committee members. FIFA is the international governing body of soccer based in Zurich, Switzerland. FIFA has more member associations than both the United Nations and International Olympic Committee.

While the competition is going to be tough, we have an excellent track record from the 1994 World Cup and one of the fastest growing soccer-playing (and watching) populations in the world. Over 24 million Americans play soccer, the second largest number in the world. Our 1994 World Cup still holds the record for the highest attendance in history, averaging 69,000 fans per game and 3.6 million attendees overall. And, the United States is quite literally the future of the game -- we've got 3.9 million young people playing soccer, making the United States top the world in players at the youth level, and over 6,000 youth clubs and leagues. With stats like that, we should host and win the World Cup by 2022 at the latest!

To view photos from U.S. Embassy Pretoria, click here.Follow U.S. Embassy Pretoria on Facebook and Twitter.For information on the World Cup in South Africa, visit the U.S. Mission's website.See Sharon Hudson-Dean's previous entry: U.S. Consulate in Johannesburg Welcomes Students for U.S.-Slovenia Match.



vivi h.
June 29, 2010

Vivi H. in Indonesia writes:

the backfield player need to improved, owing the us team in world cup 2010, the goalkeeper stolen above 3 goals

Joseph M.
Oregon, USA
June 29, 2010

Joseph A.M. in Oregon writes:

U.S. Department of State:

I am so proud of former President Bill Clinton, for all of his work and with taking the initiative for leading and promoting a truly global international humanitarian aid and resource effort! From his work with making ARV medications available in the developing world and in South Africa, to his monumental work in Haiti during the earthquake aftermath -- to President Bill Clinton's very presence in South Africa, as the Chairman of the U.S. bid committee. It is phenomenal, President Bill Clinton, I applaud your efforts in South Africa and with taking a lead role in humanitarian assistance, and by implementing programs that are truly helping the needy and making a difference for the underprivileged in the developing world!

The Italian La Gazzetta dello Sport, just published an article on the viewing audience for the U.S. vs. Ghana elimination round match from last Saturday (I believe the viewing audience estimate is based on the Nielsen rating). Although the U.S. team lost to Ghana, the ratings are startling on estimating the viewing audience during the U.S. vs. Ghana game, La Gazzetta dello Sport, reports an estimated 19.4 million Americans watched the match on ABC and on Spanish language UNIVISION channels. This is truly phenomenal for the U.S. and it is evidence of how American culture has shifted to soccer since the last World Cup was held in the United States, back when Roberto Baggio missed the infamous penalty kick in the final with Brazil, in 1994! Americans everywhere have a enchanting desire to experience and view World Cup Soccer and international competition. When you consider the three different time zones from the East Coast to the West Coast, it becomes even more amazing that so many people nationwide, from Washington D.C. to Portland Oregon, were literally glued to the television during U.S. matches, whether at home or in a local sport's cafe'. For many on the West Coast, the games were during the early morning hours, I was up at 4:00 a.m. on several occasions to view my favorite teams play.

I'm interested in being considered for assuming the position of President Bill Clinton's point person and trusted assistant, for pursuing the goal of achieving the U.S. Bid for the World Cup in 2018 or 2022. It has been reported by BBC that Australia has withdrawn its bid for 2018 and will now focus for 2022. Typically, FIFA alternates Continent's when awarding a World Cup, having 2010 in Africa, 2014 in Brazil, would suggest that the 2018 will be awarded in Europe. I honestly believe that the U.S. would have a favorable chance of being awarded a future World Cup if we are able to win support of the FIFA executive members, who have a final say in awarding points. FIFA is a unique hierarchical international sporting governing body, the U.S. should have a reasonably good chance of being awarded the bid, I would be delighted in assisting Bill Clinton with achieving this bid for 2018 or 2022. One final note; I certainly will miss the distinctive sounds of the vuvuzelas blowing continuously in the stadiums once the tournament ends in mid July, the games and the atmosphere in South Africa have been truly exciting and stunning.

Pamela G.
West Virginia, USA
July 2, 2010

Pamela G. in West Virginia writes:

The World Cup Games this year has really boosted soccer fever in the US. I cant think of a another way to increase its popularity than President Clinton bringing the World Cup to the US.


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