July 4, 2013
WHEN THE U.S. GOT THE CUP
It was 25 years ago today that the U.S. was awarded the 1994 World Cup
Twenty-five years ago today, on July 4, 1988, FIFA awarded the United States the rights to the 1994 World Cup. The decision changed the face of soccer in this country forever. BigAppleSoccer.com editor Michael Lewis attended the announcement. Here is a peak under the curtain on what happened behind the scenes in Zurich, Switzerland that day.
By Michael Lewis
ZURICH, Switzerland -- The United States didn't have to play one minute to "qualify" for the 1994 event. The Americans wound up hosting it.
Originally, the day of decision was set for June 30, 1988. But on March 3, FIFA changed it to July 4, U.S. Independence Day, making some soccer observers feel the U.S. was a shoo-in.
The U.S. was hardly that. While its bid was solid, there were a number of concerns and minuses. There was a question of whether grass could be placed over the artificial turf football fields. There was no strong, national pro league.
There also was the question if the USSF could find a television network or networks, possibly a cable concern, to originate a strong signal for not only the games in the states but for the rest of the world.
Here is a minute-by-minute overview of the final process at the Movenpick Hotel in Zurich, Switzerland:
9 a.m. -- The FIFA Executive Committee began its session in the Regulus Room. The committee held a draw to determine the order of the final presentations. Three egg shells were placed in an oversized brandy sifter. The order: Brazil, Morocco and the United States.
The committee also outlined the procedure it will follow through the next four hours. "We struck fairly rigidly to it," says FIFA senior vice president Harry Cavan, who chaired the meeting. FIFA president Dr. Joao Havelange, a Brazilian, did not chair the meeting of vote so there would be no conflict of interest.
The committee received a report from the technical committee and took a break to read it.
10 a.m. -- The Brazilian delegation, including Brazilian Soccer Confederation president Octavio Pinto Guimares and confederation administrator Moacir Peralta, gave its presentation. Each delegation was limited to 30 minutes.
Cavan later said, "We had quite a bit of emotion collectively from all three, least of all from the United States."
The U.S. delegation, Cavan added, was "very level voiced, very quietly put and very effectively put."
10:40 a.m. -- The Moroccan delegation, including minister of sport Abdellatif Semlali, met with the committee.
Semlali said that he urged FIFA to continue helping the development of soccer in Third World countries. "I tried to prove that the United States does not need such competitions," he said. "They have so many already."
11:25 a.m. -- The U.S. delegation was called in and gave a 22-minute presentation, including a two-minute speech on videotape by President Reagan. The five men who meet with the Executive Committee included U.S. Soccer Federation president Werner Fricker, World Cup USA 1994 director Paul Stiehl, former USSF president Gene Edwards, World Cup USA 1994 counsel Scott LeTellier and Rey Post of Eddie Mahe Jr. and Associates.
"It was exactly, give or take a minute, how long we thought the presentation would be," Stiehl said. "We didn't want to make it so long that it would have bored everybody to death. At the same time, we couldn't cut it too short.
"We were all very satisfied. I think we were able to optimistically read some of the faces."
1:05 p.m. -- The three heads of the delegations, including Fricker, were called into the executive committee meeting, and they are told the news. Fricker, showing no emotion, walked back to the U.S. waiting room, where he slammed the door. "He's stone-faced," Stiehl said. "He's very good at that."
Once inside the room, Fricker put his right thumb up to signify victory (One observer later said that Fricker had such a sour look on his face, it was as though FIFA told him, not only won't the U.S. host this World Cup, it never will stage one at all).
Several minutes later, the Brazilian and Moroccan delegations walked over to the U.S. room to congratulate the Americans.
1:21 p.m. -- Before about 100 members of the international media, Havelange let Cavan make the big announcement.
"After very careful and very responsible consideration of all the information that has been brought to us today," Cavan said, "the executive committee of FIFA has, in a very democratic way, arrived at a conclusion that I am happy to announce on behalf of the president of FIFA, the executive committee of FIFA, the following results.
"It was a card vote, a secret vote. It resulted as follows: Brazil two, Morocco seven, the United States 10.
There were cheers from the audience.
Cavan continued, "I declare on behalf of FIFA that the host country for the 1994 World Cup will be the United States of America."