Former President Bill Clinton's speech ran long and wandered off point. Actor Morgan Freeman lost his place in the script. Landon Donovan kept it brief.
But Sunil Gulati, the president of U.S. Soccer, saved the day in Switzerland on Wednesday by telling the 22 members of FIFA's executive committee in Zurich exactly what they wanted to hear.
Staging the World Cup in the United States in 2022 would produce a financial windfall for international soccer's governing body, Gulati said, with the event raking in more money for FIFA than it could imagine.
That fact alone might just have been enough to sway committee members into selecting the U.S. on Thursday, ahead of bids from Australia, Japan, Qatar and South Korea for the right to stage the world championship 12 years from now.
The announcement of who gets the 2018 and 2022 tournaments will be made in Zurich on Thursday and broadcast live to 70 countries. Fox Soccer Channel and Univision will televise the decision in programs that begin at 6:30 a.m.
The 2018 bidders — England, the Netherlands/Belgium, Russia and Spain/Portugal — will make their presentations to FIFA on Thursday, after which the executive committee behind closed doors will make its decision on both tournament hosts.
The U.S. put on the best-attended and most financially lucrative World Cup ever in 1994, and Gulati said attendance in 2022 could easily surpass that tournament's average of 68,991. Eighteen cities, including Los Angeles and San Diego, are being considered as sites for 2022.
"It will be a major success, setting new records for ticket sales, selling out every match, promising record profits for FIFA to invest in the game worldwide," Gulati said.
Clinton and — in a video message — President Obama both stressed that the ethnic diversity of the U.S. makes it an ideal venue for an international event such as the World Cup.