The Final Push

US offers World Cup pitch to FIFA

Before the votes are cast Thursday in Zurich to determine the locations of future World Cups, a U.S. bid delegation featuring Bill Clinton, Morgan Freeman and Landon Donovan will have an audience with soccer's international governing body for final arguments in favor of holding the 2022 tournament in the United States.

They will stress the sport's growth, the coast-to-coast buzz generated by the U.S. team in South Africa last summer and the maturation of a professional league. They'll emphasize the success of the 1994 World Cup in the United States, which set attendance records and reaped a financial windfall when soccer was just a curiosity to most Americans.

They will highlight the variety of stadiums available, an infrastructure fit to handle any major sporting event and support expressed by business and government sectors. They will underscore the largely glowing reviews issued by FIFA's own inspection team this fall.

And when the presentations by the U.S. group and its competitors are complete, FIFA's executive committee will culminate years of maneuvering, lobbying and dreaming by awarding the 2022 World Cup to . . . Qatar. Or Australia. Maybe Japan or South Korea.

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