World Cup Bid Decision Day

Thursday, December 02, 2010 | View Comments

It's decision day in Zurich.  The 2018 bidders have completed their presentations, and an announcement is expected (though don't be surprised if they makes us wait) around 10 AM ET.  While FIFA's Executive Committee mulls their options over lunch, those of us following along at home or work are left to try and handicap a race that is literally unhandicapple-able.

We can't get into the heads of ExCo member, and frankly, that's not a place anyone should want to be.  This group of 22 does hold some of the potential growth of American soccer in their hands, however, so we can't be faulted for trying.

The problem is that no one knows.  No one.  The "experts", men and women who have covered the sport for years or decades are simply guessing, throwing up their hands, or hedging their bets with ambiguous statements of how close it will be for both races.

It's difficult to properly frame what another World Cup in the US might mean for the game here.  The most optimistic among us can imagine a country turning en masse to soccer because of it, though that's probably not completely realistic.  It would certainly help.  More important than the tournament itself might be the lead time; everyone who works in soccer, covers soccer, or evangelizes soccer will find 12 years of build-up a massive boon to their efforts.

To say nothing of the kids, millions of young players who have the carrot of a tournament in their backyard to drive them towards their dreams. It's something that defies measure but is difficult to overstate. H. U. G. E. HUGE.

Think for a moment about the differences between soccer in the USA in 1988, when we were last awarded a future World Cup, and now. While we wouldn't be here if it wasn't for that World Cup, we're now actually in a position to take full advantage of the intervening years between winning the bid and hosting the tournament.

Of course, building up our hopes by thinking about what could be will only make the possible crash that much more painful. It's up to FIFA. FIFA doesn't always travel the obvious path. In fact, they often make it a point not to. That, more than crazy cool stadiums in the desert or mind-bending hologram technology, is the United States' toughest opponent. It's been said, but if FIFA chooses Qatar over the US, it won't be because they have the better bid.

I'll end this now, just about two hours (plus whatever delays) from the announcement.

In a military context, when on alert, there's a phrase used to boost morale and reinforce that the situation is under control.  Even if that's not completely true.  I think it's appropriate here, just to get us through the next few hours.

Confidence is high. I repeat, confidence is high.

Cross every finger and toe you have.

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