NEW YORK (Reuters) - Former U.S. President Bill Clinton has joined a U.S. bid to host the World Cup in 2018 or 2022 and said on Monday that winning the campaign would give the United States a much needed economic boost.
According to Clinton, a major benefit to the country’s bid is that all U.S. host cities already have existing stadium and transportation infrastructure necessary to host games.
“That means that if we get the (World Cup) there will be an economic stimulus estimated between $400-$600 million per host city,” he said at a news conference to announce his role as honorary chairman of the U.S. bid.
“That will be very good for a lot of families that are still hurting, a lot of communities that are still digging out from under the current economic crisis.”
The United States, Australia, England, Russia and a pair of joint-bids from Belgium/Netherlands and Spain/Portugal are bidding to host the 2018 or 2022 World Cups with Qatar, Japan, and South Korea in the running to host the latter tournament.
Clinton said that when the United States hosted the World Cup in 1994, when he was president, the event produced a surplus of $50 million.
His involvement in the U.S. bid pits him against David Beckham, who is the face of a campaign that is out to bring the World Cup to England for the first time in over 50 years.
The Belgium/Netherlands bid have brought in former soccer players to help their bid, Australia has garnered support from some of its Hollywood celebrities, while Russia and Qatar have so far used political heavyweights.
News of Clinton’s involvement comes after a weekend where England’s bid chief stood down following a newspaper report that he made bribery allegations against rival bidders.
According to Clinton, another benefit of the U.S. bid is the likelihood of packed stadiums given what he said is a large number of soccer fans who live in the United States but support other nations when it comes to soccer.
“Hosting another World Cup in the United States where about 12 percent of the population is foreign born will ensure high attendance for every match played because we will have lots of fans for every team that shows up,” he said.
The hosts of the 2018 and 2022 World Cup will be decided at a meeting of FIFA’s executive committee in December.
Reporting by Michelle Nichols; Editing by Frank Pingue