Representatives of five countries made their final presentations to FIFA — the international soccer governing body — on Wednesday in Switzerland, all vying to host the 2022 World Cup. The presentations came before Thursday’s vote to determine who will play host to the global event in 2018 and 2022. The contenders for 2022 are the United States, Qatar, Japan, South Korea and Australia.
Here’s how each country marketed itself:
The United States
The American committee’s slogan is “The Game is in us.” Not long ago, that proclamation would’ve seemed like a reach, but soccer appeared to make a leap last year when the U.S. squad finished atop its group in South Africa in dramatic fashion.
Before the U.S. dropped out of the running for the 2018 cup, leaving three European bidders and Russian contending for the next cup after Brazil hosts in 2014, the U.S. committee marketed the country as a diverse second home for today’s global citizen. Told by actor Morgan Freeman, America’s image in the ad is the often-told story of the country as a melting pot.
You can also watch the full U.S. presentation in Zurich, featuring former President Bill Clinton and Academy Award-winner Morgan Freeman.
Right now, Qatar doesn’t have much to show for as a World Cup host, with nine of its 12 proposed stadiums yet to be built, but it can promise the future. Its bid committee also pointed to the region’s growing youth population in a promotional video.
“In 2022, more than half of the Middle East inhabitants will be under 25. A World Cup here will have a deeper impact on more young people in our region than any other. And will also have the greatest future benefits for the game,” UNESCO Special Envoy for Higher Education Sheikha Mozah bint Nasser said in the promo.
Qatar’s “Introduction” encapsulates its changing demographics, as the video follows a collection of young people who love soccer or soon discover that they love it.
Given that Japan joint-hosted the World Cup the last time it was in Asia in 2002, Japan’s bid for 2022 was viewed as a distant competitor. But Japan announced Wednesday its intention to distribute matches to stadiums across the globe in holographic images, one the few media that trumps Qatar’s proposed Al-Rayyan Stadium, with its wraparound JumboTron.
To bolster the technological component of a Japanese World Cup, the bid committee brought Sony CEO and President Howard Stringer to Zurich, put him in a customized bid committee uniform (the only delegation with matching unis) and had him speak about the new frontier of technology in the World Cup.
His appearance reinforced the message that the committee laid out this summer with their video, “208 Smiles,” a reference to the 208 FIFA nations.
Former South Korean Prime Minister Lee Hong-Koo glanced down next to his lectern at a perched soccer ball.
“In this football, I see the power and possibility of football to unite us despite of our differences and open the way for a new and bright future,” he said.
As tensions heightened from North Korea’s recent shelling of a South Korean island, Koo spoke of the unifying aspect of the sport, rather than rehashing successful past events, such as the 1988 Olympics in Seoul and the World Cup that the country co-hosted with Japan just nine years ago.
Australia is the only country with a bid mascot, a computer-generated kangaroo. Well, the kangaroo, which is nameless, might not evoke the typical image of a mascot, being more reminiscent of Scooby Doo, but it is pictured with Football Federation Australia’s Chairman Frank Lowy.
The kangaroo is also the main character in one of Australia’s bid videos. It plays the role of a thief who steals the World Cup from FIFA’s headquarters and gallivants through Australia, leading the viewer through the country’s scenic and urban beauty and to a few celebrity cameos, such as Crocodile Dundee actor Paul Hogan. (This video is sometimes slow to load, but can also be viewed here.)
The bid committee also put out a piece based on the rhythm of the game.
We’ll have more on the 2018 and 2022 World Cup announcements Thursday here on The Rundown. Stay tuned.