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Kissinger on board seeking World Cup bid for United States

NEW YORK – Former Secretary of State Henry Kissinger joined the board of U.S. organizers bidding to host the World Cup in 2018 or 2022.

Kissinger was chairman of the advisory committee of the successful bid in 1988 for the 1994 World Cup and became vice chairman of the organizing committee. He previously was part of the failed U.S. bid for the 1986 tournament, when FIFA said it would be moved from Colombia. Mexico wound up hosting.

“I don’t think we have a huge chance in 2018. I think it will probably go to Europe,” Kissinger said Monday. “We’ll certainly contest for it. And just as ’86 guaranteed that we got it in ’94, so I think bidding for 2018 will give us a great chance for 2022.”

FIFA’s executive committee will vote on the 2018 and 2022 hosts in December 2010, and many think the 2018 vote will come down to England or Spain. Kissinger thinks Russia, which has never hosted soccer’s showcase, will get strong consideration.

Next year’s tournament is in South Africa, and Brazil will stage the World Cup in 2014.

“I think Europe will probably get it in 2018,” he said. “Our best shot is ’22, but I hope we can get it in ’18. But it’s hard to believe Europe will let it go three times in a row.”

Kissinger received FIFA’s order of merit in 1996, with the governing body saying his “support for football from the high-profile position of his public office has contributed greatly to raising its visibility and credibility in the United States.”

Kissinger views President Obama as an asset in the campaign for the tournament, saying he believes the new administration is viewed favorably around the world.

“We know that Obama is very interested in sports,” Kissinger said. “I think as we go along we should be able to get a hearing at the White House, get him to say something favorable about us.”

No stampedes in 2010?

JOHANNESBURG – The organizer of the 2010 World Cup in South Africa said problems that often lead to stadium stampedes won’t be an issue during the tournament.

Danny Jordaan spoke Monday, a day after a stampede at a World Cup qualifying game in Ivory Coast killed at least 19 people.

Jordaan said many African fans buy tickets when they reach the stadium and often arrive late. He said a typical scenario involved impatient crowds outside hearing a goal has been scored.

“It triggers a stampede that leads to disaster,” Jordaan said. “Those things will not occur in the Confederations Cup or the World Cup. It is impossible.”

For the Confederations Cup this year and the World Cup in 2010, tickets must be bought well in advance. Jordaan said those without tickets will be stopped miles away, and fans will be urged to arrive when gates open three hours before a game.

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