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Reagan's Help Is Sought in U.S. World Cup Bid

November 19, 1987|RANDY HARVEY | Times Staff Writer

The U.S. Soccer Federation, campaigning to bring the 1994 World Cup to the United States, has enlisted the aid of President Reagan.

Reagan will meet today in the White House with Joao Havelange of Brazil, president of the International Football Federation.

Havelange has said frequently that he will remain neutral while FIFA determines the site, even though Brazil is the other leading contender. Morocco also has submitted a bid.

Formal bids will be presented Dec. 10 at FIFA headquarters in Zurich. FIFA will vote on the site next June 30 in Zurich.

With almost universal support from nations, the World Cup is one of the world's most watched and talked about sporting events.

The USSF will not make a final determination of locations for the matches in the United States until after FIFA's vote. But David Simon, executive vice president of the Los Angeles Chamber of Commerce, said Wednesday at the International Sport Summit in Beverly Hills that the Coliseum and the Rose Bowl probably would be 2 of the 12 stadiums used.

Other West Coast sites, he said, probably would be Palo Alto and Seattle.

A sub-committee of the Chamber of Commerce Sports Council has been established to bring the semifinals and final as well as the opening and closing ceremonies and administrative headquarters to Los Angeles. The primary competition for that role, Simon said, is Miami.

According to sources close to international soccer at the Sport Summit, Havelange's support would assure a favorable vote for the United States but is not essential. Other FIFA officials, who recognize the marketing potential for the sport in North America and are wary of Brazil's economic situation, are said to favor the United States.

One source went so far as to say the United States is a "lock" to win FIFA's approval and predicted the final game will be held in the Rose Bowl.

He said FIFA officials were impressed by the support shown for soccer at the Rose Bowl during the 1984 Summer Olympics.

"The choice for Havelange and FIFA is between the legacy of a successful World Cup in Brazil, which is Havelange's home, or expanding the horizon of success by giving it to the United States," Simon said.

"Just as the (1984) Olympics were here and left something behind, the World Cup of soccer could come here and leave something behind, which would be a base for the growth of the sport in the United States."

Traditionally, the World Cup has alternated between Europe and the Americas. With the 1986 World Cup in Mexico, the 1990 World Cup was awarded to Italy.

Simon said that European countries might support the United States partly because the host country likely would not be a contender for the championship. That would eliminate the home-field advantage that many World Cup contenders in the past have enjoyed.

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