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Countries waging `star wars` to promote 2022 WC bids

Posted December. 02, 2010 10:29,   


In the run-up to the selection of the host nation of the 2022 FIFA World Cup, candidate countries are waging "star wars" to land the hosting right.

Korea, the U.S., Australia, Qatar and Japan are using global celebrities to promote their respective bids and win over FIFA, soccer’s world governing body. FIFA will announce the host countries for the 2018 and 2022 World Cups Thursday in Zurich.

○ Korea: Park Ji-sung, Kang Su-jin, Park Tae-hwan

Korea’s top spokesman is Park Ji-sung of Manchester United. He read in fluent English a script he wrote at the final presentation Wednesday.

2008 Olympic swimming champion Park Tae-hwan and prima ballerina Kang Su-jin also attended the presentation.

The swimmer, who is meeting celebrities from around the world, said, “I remember feeling so anxious and rooting at the 2002 Korea-Japan World Cup. I`ll use the passion I felt then to help us win the bid.”

○ US: Bill Clinton

The face of the U.S. bid is former President Bill Clinton. As honorary chairman of the U.S. bidding committee, he is aggressively striving to win votes.

Soccer star Landon Donovan, actor Morgan Freeman and director Spike Lee are also promoting the U.S.

○ Australia: Hollywood stars

Famous Australian actors are hawking Australia’s bid including Nicole Kidman and Hugh Jackman as well as soccer stars Tim Cahill, Brett Emerton and Robbie Fowler and swimmer Ian Thorpe.

○ Qatar: Zidane and Batistuta

Qatar is using its oil dollars to attract high profile figures for its bid. Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa Al Thani, leader of Qatar’s bid, has on his side former French star Zinedine Zidane as World Cup bid ambassador.

Zidane appears on a Qatar World Cup promotional ad saying “One vote for Qatar for peace in the Middle East.”

The Arab country has also hired FC Barcelona coach Josep Guardiola and former stars Gabriel Batistuta of Argentina and Roger Milla of Cameroon.

○ Japan: Nakata and a child actress

Japan failed to get David Beckham to promote its bid and instead hired former Japanese international Hidetoshi Nakata. Japanese child actress Rio Sasaki also appeared last at the presentation Wednesday.