FIFA tours Houston for possible World Cup bid

Local organizers hope Yao Ming can help land Houston a World Cup
September 9, 2010 4:53:27 PM PDT
Thursday was a very important day for Houston, as city leaders welcomed officials tasked with a decision worth billions - Which city will host the FIFA soccer World Cup? We know how excited the world was to watch the World Cup in South Africa this year. Now Houston is competing against several cities in a bid to host the 2018 or 2022 World Cup.

The red carpet was out and the police escort was in place. Houston as a city is doing everything it can to impress the FIFA World Cup delegation.

"This isn't about one city," said Houston Mayor Annise Parker. "It's about the U.S. bid, but Houston has a strong piece of that bid and we're a great soccer town and our job is to roll out the red carpet and show people that."

The delegation came to inspect the readiness of Reliant Stadium, a proposed World Cup venue, and to look at the city as a whole. If the United States wins the bid for hosting the 2018 or 2022 World Cup games, Houston would most likely get some of the matches.

Local soccer fans know the impact would be tremendous.

"I think it puts Houston on the map internationally," said soccer fan Jen Cooper. "I think we're such a great city, but people aren't aware of how great we are."

With an expected economic impact of $400 to $600 million and an international audience, the hard sell was evident. Local organizers brought out Yao Ming, the city's biggest international sports star, to help impress FFIA.

"I feel Houston is a very international city, a lot of people from all over the world," Yao said. "I think it's a very good opportunity for the World Cup to come to Houston."

If Houston impresses the selection committee, it would help USA soccer and if the U.S. gets to play host, there is no doubt Houston will benefit.

"We're for anything that is good for Houston and this is good for Houston," said Houston Texans owner Bob McNair.

Before fans get too excited, first things first. The U.S. must win the bid to bring the World Cup to the country. That decision will be made later this year.


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