USA begin waiting game for World Cup bid vote
In just about four weeks, FIFA's maligned Executive Committee will vote to award the 2018 and 2022 World Cup.
For David Downs, executive director of the United States 2022 Bid Committee, almost all the hard work is complete. It's just about tying up loose ends now.
"We're making sure that our final presentation is in the best shape and is representative of all the effort we've put into the bid," he told MLSsoccer.com by phone on Thursday afternoon. "It needs to be consistent with what we've been saying all along.
"It's a fair amount of work putting together a 30-minute presentation. We're conscious of fact that not only will the 24 members of Ex-Co will see it, but that it will be streamed around the world and scrutinized by the members of the media who are in Zürich and elsewhere."
The presentation will take place in Switzerland the day before the vote. Although someone from the US team will have met with each member individually to discuss the nation's bid, the half-hour offering will be the last chance to sway any undecided Ex-Co members or assuage any lingering doubts.
Recent events involving allegations of collusion and vote selling have brought the proceedings under increased scrutiny and made it more difficult for the US Bid Committee to gauge support for their cause.
"I think it's fair to say that, especially in light of the recent news of what may or may not have been going on with the Ex-Co, Ex-Co members are appropriately keeping their votes to themselves," Downs said."We won't have an idea [of how members are voting on Dec. 2]. Nor should we. The goal is to convince as many as we can that we are an excellent host."
The American team has spent the last year attempting to show the Ex-Co and the world at large that the US will be the best host for the '22 World Cup. An unbiased observer would most likely agree that the positives of the bid (excellent infrastructure, solid finances, the potential to grow the sport in the country) outweigh the negatives (the perception that Americans don't care about soccer, the US hosted in 1994).
In a vacuum, the US looks to have a great chance to host the tournament.
Of course, the voting doesn't take place in a vacuum, as the events of the last month have clearly demonstrated. The Americans, however, haven't altered their plans.
"I don't think it's changed our approach," Downs said. "We've certainly handled ourselves in the same manner from Day 1."
If the vote took place tomorrow, would he feel confident?
"I'll feel the same way I will feel on December 1st and 2nd," he said. "I think we have made a very good case. I can see a very plausible scenario in which we win. That said, I'm realistic enough to know that we're not entitled and can see a plausible scenario in which we don't win.
"I wouldn't be doing my job if I weren't optimistic, but I'm also not overly so."
In less than a month, the world will find out whether that optimism is warranted.
Noah Davis covers the United States national team for MLSsoccer.com. Follow him on Twitter at @noahedavis.
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