World Cup to Kansas City?

Lydia Strong

Kansas City skyline and World Cup logo.
Kansas City skyline and World Cup logo.

This summer, soccer fans worldwide tuned in to watch the men’s 2010 FIFA World Cup. The July games placed South Africa and its 10 host cities into the world’s spotlight.

The same fate could meet the U.S., and perhaps Kansas City, in 2022.

On Dec. 2, Fédération Internationale de Football Association (FIFA) will choose the host country for the 2022 games. The candidates are the U.S., Australia, Japan, Qatar and South Korea. If the U.S. receives hosting rights, Kansas City will have a chance to become one of the host cities.

“There are a lot of people [who] think there is no way we can host this,” said David Ficklin, who served on San Francisco’s World Cup host committee in 1994. “But, I’ve been involved in planning World Cups, and I’ve attended in 1994, 2002, 2006 and 2010, and we can absolutely host it. We would be a fantastic host.”

Ficklin sees hosting a major international event as an opportunity for Kansas Citians to come together.

“Here is one of the great opportunities for our city that doesn’t involve politics,” Ficklin said. “Whether you are on the right, on the left, in the middle or someplace else, this is good for our city. We just need to say, ‘Look, we want you to come here.’ And when you think about the economic power of it, between $400 and $600 million of U.S. dollars will be generated at each host city.”

The U.S. hosted the men’s FIFA World Cup in 1994, when Ficklin worked on the San Francisco host committee.

“It was the experience of a lifetime,” Ficklin said. “It changed my life. It made me realize that I had to have a career in soccer.”

David Ficklin, who has served on multiple=
David Ficklin, who has served on multiple World Cup committees.

In 1999, Ficklin was in charge of two venues during the women’s FIFA World Cup in the Bay Area. He also worked on several bids for various international sport events.

“I worked on Morocco’s bid for 2010, which we lost to South Africa,” Ficklin said. “Then I worked Turkey bid for a European Championship for 2012. And then I also worked for Russia’s bid for the 2014 Olympic Winter games, which we won. It was awarded to [the city of] Sochi.”

This range of experience is the foundation of Ficklin’s faith in Kansas City’s candidacy. The city already has the necessary requirements of a host city, according to Ficklin.

“We have an absolutely world class infrastructure,” Ficklin said. “We have world class venues, both for the stadium and for all our training facilities. And we are basically just a little over two hours away from either coast, so we are ideally located.”

But first, the U.S. has to win the national bid.

The U.S. entered the race for the 2022 hosting rights at the beginning of this year. At the time, the National Committee proposed 18 host cities to FIFA.

“The United Sates has over 50 cities that could host the World Cup, and so we basically took [more than] a year to narrow it down to 18,” Ficklin said.

The 1994 World Cup venues were Chicago, Boston, Dallas, Detroit, Los Angeles, New York, Orlando, San Francisco and Washington, D.C.

“Kansas City was one of the very last cities cut in 1994,” Ficklin said. “And we are trying so hard to place Kansas City at the very top of any metric that FIFA might choose, if we host it in 2022.”

The key to placing a country or a city at the top of FIFA’s metric is the people’s passion for the event.

As of now, more than 1.1 million people have signed the petition to bring the games to the U.S.

“The thing that we need to do as a nation is to convince FIFA that we are crazy, that we are passionate about the World Cup and about hosting it,” Ficklin said. “The one thing Americans can do is sign the petition.”

Supporters can sign the petition for the U.S.-hosted 2022 FIFA World Cup at www.gousabid.com.

Supporters can also nominate individual cities by signing another petition on the same website. The Kansas City link is www.gousabid.com/kc.

As of Nov. 7, Kansas City has collected almost 32,000 signatures, and is number 13 out of 18 host city nominees on www.gousabid.com.

“The petition and the signature drive is so, so important to get us into the very top,” Ficklin said. “So when they (FIFA and the National Committee) look back, they will see that Kansas City is so passionate.”

If FIFA awards hosting rights to the U.S., the list of cities might narrow down even further.

“Somewhere between five and six years before the respective World Cup, FIFA, in conjunction with the National Organizing Committee of the winning country, selects the final venue cities,” Ficklin said.

Ficklin is the Director of the Kansas City Bid Committee. He faces competition from Atlanta, Boston, Baltimore, Dallas, Denver, Houston, Indianapolis, Los Angeles, Miami, Nashville, New York, Philadelphia, Phoenix, San Diego, Seattle, Tampa Bay and Washington, D.C.

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