FIFA may come to Mason

Members of the FIFA delegation pose with the men's soccer team. (John Powell) 

FIFA officials came to look at Patriot Stadium Tuesday evening to see if it could be used as a practice facility for the 2018 World Cup.

U.S. Soccer submitted a bid to host the famous world soccer championship in either 2018 or 2022, however they seem to be focusing on the 2018 bid. The U.S. is competing with England, Russia, Belgium and the Netherlands (who have submitted a joint bid), and Portugal and Spain (who have done the same). Indonesia and Mexico have dropped out of the running.

As part of the process, FIFA officials have visited prospective countries since July 19, looking at practice fields as well as host stadiums.

This is where Mason comes in.

The university’s soccer facilities were used for the 1994 World Cup and they may be used again in 2018 if the U.S. bid is successful.

“It’s a visibility issue. It would be great for the students to know that the university is on a world scale,” said Tom O’Connor, George Mason University’s Assistant V.P./Director of Athletics, who is confident that the facility will be used if U.S. Soccer receives the bid. “In 1994, it was a practice site and we got great exposure. So I think for the students to have that type of feeling is great for the university.”

After University President Alan Merten and O’Connor welcomed the World Cup officials, Head Coach Greg Andrulis and his team followed suit, giving them some small tokens of appreciation including scarves and cups. The team even let some officials shoot on one of the team’s goals.

The officials scored.

“I think we have a lot of things going for us: certainly the fields we have, not only the game field but the practice field, and the seclusion that we can give to the teams if they would like to have closed practices, plus the distance between here and D.C. and quite frankly the distance between the Mason Inn and here. People didn’t know about the Mason Inn until they came today and we told them about it. There are many many plusses for us to have it that year,” O’Connor said.

FIFA will announce which country will receive the right to host the 2018 and 2022 World Cups on Dec. 2, giving them months after inspections end on Sept. 17.


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