By Noah Davis
Columbus, OH -- After a press conference to discuss the United States' bid for either the 2018 or 2022 World Cup, executive director of the bid committee David Downs spoke with Goal.com about the challenges the Americans face in convincing the world it should host football's biggest celebration.
"I think the single biggest disadvantage that we have is that we have some formidable competitors," the former Univision president said.
"There's no doubt in my mind that we can't stage an utterly fantastic World Cup. We meet all the bottom-line criteria for sure and on top of that we present some very unique facets as well that can put our bid over the top, but any time you're dealing with a political situation that's a vote of an executive committee and there are other countries involved that may not be equally competent but are competent enough to stage a World Cup, you have some odds against you."
"We know we can do it, but our challenge is to show FIFA that we would be one of the two best bids for those two World Cups," Downs added.
The executive director thinks his experience in the television world -- he played a key role in shaping ABC's coverage of the 1994 Cup as well as overseeing almost 400 televised soccer matches a year in his last position -- helped convinced U.S. Federation head Sunil Gulati that Downs was the correct man for the job.
"I have gotten to know, over my network television career, almost all the key players, both in U.S. Soccer and in FIFA, " he said, also mentioning that the bid committee will highlight the growth of soccer television in the U.S. as well as the financial rewards that FIFA stands to reap. "The United States combined television bid for the 2010 and 2014 World Cup... was a combined $425, which is a record for one country."
Always the TV man, Downs wouldn't offer a prediction beyond tonight's United States-Mexico match other than to say, "I know it's going to do a tremendous rating on Univision and I suspect it will be good rating on ESPN as well."
Noah Davis covers the United States National Team for Goal.com.