Pictured left to right are the Moroccan delegates, then FIFA general secretary Sepp Blatter, Paul Stiehl, Rey Post and Jim Trecker. (Photo courtesy of Jim Trecker)
Note: With the United States, Canada and Mexico ready to announce its intention for a three-way bid for the 2026 World Cup Monday, FrontRowSoccer.com thought this story would help put the news into perspective. This story originally was published in the Oct. 1, 1987 of Soccer Week. It is used with permission. BigAppleSoccer.com editor Michael Lewis attended the small press gathering that announced the U.S. Soccer Federation’s intention to host the 1994 World Cup in Manhattan on Sept. 28, 1987.
By Michael Lewis
On Wednesday (Sept. 30), FIFA headquarters in Zurich, Switzerland received a personal special delivery from three gentlemen representing the United States Soccer Federation. Their package, on the surface, looked like a couple of phone books.
The material in those “phone books,” however will go a long way in determining whether the United States will receive a nod to host the 1994 World Cup.
Federation officials, including USSF president Werner Fricker, were optimistic the 381-page document would. In fact, Fricker said at a press gathering in New York City that he felt the United States’ chances were “excellent.”
Of course, Brazil might have something to say about that, but Fricker sounded extremely confident that the lengthy document, costing $500,000, would sway FIFA.
Wednesday was the deadline for answering the terms of reference given to the United States, Brazil, Chile and Morocco last spring. The applications usually are mailed to FIFA headquarters. But Fricker said the USSF wanted to show how much it wants the Cup so it hand-delivered the documents.
Fricker is basking his optimism on those “one and a half phone books,” which most likely are a far cry from the superficial effort presented by the USSF in 1983 for the 1986 World Cup.
“The bid is unquestionable stronger,” he said. “We have answered every question and every details. The bid is on the money, very precise. Our staff did an outstanding job. I think we have it all covered.”
In this case, all encompasses a lot. The application includes federal guarantees, the selection of 18 stadiums — none in the New York metropolitan area, transportation (road, train and plane routes and maps), tickets and media and marketing, according to a 15-page abstract released to the media.
“There is a strong desire by FIFA and most people to have the World Cup come to the United States,” Fricker said after the application was completed. “A lot of people see the United States as a white spot on the map of soccer in the world . . . They [FIFA] would very much like to see development in soccer in the United States and to see it grow in a very big way.”
Brazil must be considered the favorite at this point, despite it financial problems. And even a hopeful and optimistic Fricker admitted that the three-time World Cup champion had a lot going for it.
“It would appear to me if I looked at it, ‘My God, Brazil has to be the country from a soccer sense. They’re done it before,’ ” he said.
Now the United States wants to do it, though Fricker admitted there still was plenty of work to do — if and when the United States gets the bid.
The No. 1 priority would be to have a team able to represent the United States in international competition. Thee presently is no national professional soccer league in this country, but Fricker said the USSF plans to have several regional leagues by 1990 and a national league two years after that.
“I don’t feel the United States is a backwards soccer nation,” Fricker said. “Most national associations around the world do not have top-flight professional leagues. FIFA wants to see it [a league] happen.”
Even if the United States doesn’t get the bid, the USSF plans to institute an extensive national team program, Fricker said. That would entail the team playing 30 to 40 international games a year, not unlike Mexico’s preparations for last year’s World Cup.
“We have to do the same thing as Mexico did,” Fricker said. “Take the best players and play 30 or 40 matches a year around the world. Today we have more players who could play at that level.
The application will be translated into languages of FIFA’s Executive Committee members, who will mull the answer until they ultimately decide on July 1, 1988 [editor’s note: that date eventually was changed to July 4]. Between now and then the USSF plans to present a video to FIFA to supplement the application, deploy a massive public relations campaign and work closely with FIFA to get support, Fricker said.
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USSF treasurer Paul Stiehle, Rey Post, Jr. of Eddie Mahe Jr. and Associates, which prepared the application, and former Cosmos and North American Soccer League public relations director Jim Trecker, who does public relations for World Cup USA 1994, flew to Zurich to present the application to FIFA.