US proposes World Cup draw in Miami

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NEW YORK (AP) — The United States proposed holding the World Cup draw in Miami ahead of a tournament in 2018 or 2022 and suggested the possibility of hosting the opener at the Dallas Cowboys Stadium.

The five-volume U.S. bid book, presented to FIFA on Friday, would put the qualifying draw in New York, its location ahead of the 1994 tournament. The U.S. bid committee has steadily been adding big names to its group and scheduled a news conference with former President Bill Clinton at a field in Harlem on Monday.

"We've got 320 million people. If we get even a small percentage increase of them turned onto the game in a way that follows the team or MLS now, it would be extraordinary growth," said U.S. Soccer Federation president Sunil Gulati, chairman of the USA Bid Committee. "We don't have to spend money on infrastructure, and not only don't we have to do it, we don't have to ask the U.S. government or any state governments to do it."

Gulati said proposals for the specific sites for the draws and the opener were preliminary.

The U.S. bid proposed 18 stadiums, six more than probably would be used. In addition, new stadiums would be considered if they are built for the NFL in Los Angeles, San Francisco, Minneapolis and other places.

"There are a number of combinations that would work," Gulati said. "Clearly New York is an important city. The same goes for Miami, which has become very much the gateway for South America."

The bid committee has reserved 170,000 rooms totaling 12.8 million hotel nights for 2018 and 2022. It has lined up 68 base camps and 118 training sites and projected 5 million tickets sold and over $1 billion in revenue.

"I don't see how anyone else could technically match all of the standards at the level we've met," Gulati said.

He said FIFA has not brought up the new immigration law in Arizona, but said he thinks there will be changes in the statute making it more favorable to human rights.

"I think there will be a better balance struck soon, is my view. It's being challenged legally. It's obviously being challenged in public opinion," he said. "At this stage, they're part of the bid. We've got 18 cities, so we have plenty of options."

Gulati said that if the U.S. were hosting the World Cup in six months, he would have to think "long and hard" about whether to drop Glendale, Ariz., as a proposed site.

England, Russia, Australia, Spain-Portugal and Belgium-Netherlands are competing for both tournaments, and Japan, Qatar and South Korea are bidding for 2022 only. Because Europe has eight of 24 votes on the FIFA executive committee, soccer's top economic continent is likely to host in 2018.

FIFA's executive committee will vote on both hosts Dec. 2, and Gulati said the U.S. starts with the three votes from North and Central America and the Caribbean.

Major League Soccer launched after the 1994 World Cup. There are now several all-soccer television networks in the U.S.

"In 1994 the World Cup was a kind of pilot, because for the first time in the history of the World Cup not only all the tickets were sold but all the seats were occupied," FIFA president Sepp Blatter said. "Now it is passe."

USSF officials believe growth would be even greater following another World Cup in America.

"The first World Cup changed the landscape of the United States in an extraordinary way," Gulati said. "If American television gets involved in the World Cup in the same way that American television essentially funds the Olympic movement, that would be a landmark change in the way FIFA's revenues and therefore FIFA's programs around the world are. It's a very large country. We don't need to rival the NFL to have a multiple increase."

U.S. captain Carlos Bocanegra, who helped hand over the bid, said a successful tournament in South Africa this year will be important to the bid.

"America loves winners," he said. "We're going to try to go down there and do something special."


AP Sports Writer Graham Dunbar in Zurich contributed to this report.