Less than 48 hours from now, we will know whether the U.S. bid for the 2022 World Cup was a success or a failure. In Zurich the U.S. delegation is counting votes, firming up yeses and feeling out no votes. One advantage the U.S. has is star power, something a country like Qatar has to import or hire. It may be hard for a delegate to shake the hand of a famous movie star or politician and turn down the United States.
The official presentation on December 2 will be done by a four-man committee: US Bid chair Sunil Gulati, Landan Donovan, former U.S. president Bill Clinton, and actor Morgan Freeman. That’s the official presentation; but who should the U.S. have in Zurich right now to lobby these delegates and secure votes? Below are the people I think would be the U.S.’s most effective spokespeople and who should be in Zurich for the rest of the week. Some of these are no-brainers and some are possibly unrealistic and outside-the-box. But if I were U.S. Bid president, these people would be my first call:
Bill Clinton – The former president is a global icon. Besides being personally popular with many world leaders, he is the head of a huge global foundation aimed at alleviating poverty and disease. He’s smooth and an expert at wooing reticent votes, and signing him up for this bid was Gulati’s best decision.
Michael Jordan – Another global sports icon, Jordan is world renowned as being the best player in the world’s fastest growing game. Jordan would show that the American sports scene is united behind the World Cup as well as the sports business community. Plus he would be a different face before FIFA and could be a genuine ace-in-the-hole to impress delegates.
Barack Obama – I know, this backfired spectacularly when the U.S. was bidding for the Olympics. However, there is one major difference between the World Cup and Chicago Olympics. A medium risk in the U.S. bid analysis was government support, and what better way to show that the U.S. government will give full support and resources to the World Cup than the face of the government, who by the way is popular internationally. Although he will not be president in 2022, he can guarantee the delegates that his administration will begin preparing for the World Cup now and build it into any deficit plan his administration may pursue.
Steve Jobs – Europe has a bad history with Microsoft, ruling out Bill Gates, and is now bringing suit against Google as a monopoly. But Steve Jobs’ Apple is universally admired, and his iPod and its technological brethren are universally used. He could share information about American technological prowess and counteract Japan’s best claim to the Cup, that it will have a truly unique and technologically advanced World Cup.
Brad Pitt – There may be more popular actors worldwide, and maybe more beautiful people, but few possess the charm and positive ratings that the actor has. In a delegation full of political and sports stars, Pitt would add a little Hollywood glitz and glamor to the lobbying effort, and convey how the media and popular culture can help build support for soccer in America.
Landon Donovan – The delegation has to have a soccer player, and who is more associated with U.S. soccer than Donovan.
Who do you think would be the most effective spokesperson for the U.S. bid in Zurich?