Yesterday the FIFA inspection tour of the U.S. for the 2018 or 2022 World Cup wrapped up in Houston when the delegates flew back to Europe after meeting with U.S. Soccer representatives, business officials, community leaders, visits to stadiums, tourism attractions and meeting soccer players, coaches and fans throughout the United States.
'The tour was a terrific experience and opportunity for us to exchange thoughts with the FIFA delegation and highlight various aspects of our bid,' said Sunil Gulati, president of U.S. Soccer and the chairman of the USA Bid Committee. 'The enthusiasm our cities and the country would have for a possible World Cup in the United States was clearly evident during this tour. I think we made very clear that if the U.S. is selected to host the World Cup in 2018 or 2022, we will be a welcoming host.'
The tour was designed to give the FIFA Inspection Delegation a closer look at many of the assets featured in the U.S. bid to host the FIFA World Cup in 2018 or 2022. Meetings were held in New York/New Jersey, Washington D.C., Miami, Dallas and Houston. FIFA will announce the host nations for the 2018 and 2022 World Cups on December 2 in a formal ceremony.
Some of the Houston highlights of the tour included:
- A tour of Reliant Stadium, home to the Houston Texans of the National Football League and site earlier this year of the sold-out Major League Soccer All-Star Game between the MLS All-Stars and Manchester United.
- A meeting at the stadium with Houston Texans owner Bob McNair and Houston Mayor Annise Parker.
- A video message at Reliant Stadium from U.S. President George H.W. Bush.
- A concluding visit to the George R. Brown Convention Center, a candidate for the International Broadcast Center.
- A greeting at the convention center by Brian Ching of the U.S. Men's National Team and Houston Dynamo of MLS; and Dominic Kinnear; head coach of the Houston Dynamo and former Men's National Team player; and National Basketball Association star Yao Ming of the Houston Rockets.