by Paul Kennedy, Soccer America
President Barack Obama gave his support for the U.S. World Cup bid, writing FIFA President Sepp Blatter about how he has seen soccer bring children together, first as a child growing up in Indonesia and more recently as the father of two soccer-playing girls in Chicago.
"As a child, I played soccer on a dirt road in Jakarta, and the game brought the children of my neighborhood together," Obama said in a letter recently hand-delivered to Blatter and excerpts of which were released Tuesday by U.S. Soccer. "As a father, I saw that same spirit of unity alive on the fields and sidelines of my own daughters' soccer games in Chicago."
The USA is bidding to host the 2018 or 2022 World Cups. U.S. Soccer waited until after Obama's inauguration to announce its intention to bid.
"Soccer is truly the world's sport, and the World Cup promotes camaraderie and friendly competition across the globe," Obama added. "That is why this bid is about much more than a game. It is about the United States of America inviting the world to gather all across our great country in celebration of our common hopes and dreams."
Obama's popularity abroad is seen as a valuable asset for the U.S. cause.
Blatter chairs the 24-man FIFA executive committee that will decide the hosts for both tournaments in December 2010.
"It's clear from talking to people around the world that President Obama carries extraordinary respect and hope," U.S. Soccer president Sunil Gulati told AP. "That he's supporting our bid at the same time he's reaching out to the world in so many ways can only be a huge positive for us as we move forward."