Tuesday’s column: What’s a World Cup worth?

i-01b35029de00a787367a12788dc93bf8-beckszurich.jpgSay, where is Landon Donovan anyway? If it’s visibility you want look no further than the Galaxy’s David Beckham, popping up in Zurich today to hand out T-shirts on behalf of England’s 2018 bid (AP Photo).

Given the scandalous morass that is the FIFA World Cup bidding process for 2018 and 2022, the high-powered bid committees involved and the alleged economic benefits and prestige at stake, it’s a fair question.

I tried to sum up some of those issues ahead of Thursday’s decision in today’s column

From a soccer perspective – the continued development of the U.S. Men’s National Team and MLS, to name but two – another domestic World Cup is just what the game needs in this country, of course.

But if it’s economic development you’re after – jobs, tourists, increased sales tax revenues, well, the World Cup is unlikely to provide much of a boost there (in the short run) .

It’s worth noting, sports economist Professor Coates, who was quoted in the column, said Monday in an interview, that there’s a very good reason no one from FIFA or U.S. Soccer – including U.S. Soccer President Sunil Gulati, also an Ivy League economist – has defended their rosy economic forecasts or released the supposed economic impact study underpinning the American bid:

“He knows that it’s bullshit,” Coates said. “It’s a marketing project. … (The economic impact report) is no more academic research on the (economic) impact of stadiums than a campaign ad is an accurate reflection of a candidate’s actual positions … I’m sure he won’t make it public because he knows it’s indefensible.”

Coates also makes the argument that FIFA needs the developed resources the U.S. has – the stadiums, hotel space, public infrastructure – and those highly desirable desirable elements should be worth paying for:

“Rather than us trying to bid to them to get it they should be coming to us and saying ‘y’know, all the stuff we need is there – what do we have to give you to get access to it?’

“Rather than saying here are the keys to the treasury, come grace us with your presence, how about ‘you want our high quality facilities? How much are you willing to pay for them?’ That’s how we get economic development.”

Not the type of inspiring message likely to win the U.S. the World Cup bid, though, right Morgan Freeman?

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About Nick Green

South Bay-based Los Angeles News Group soccer columnist and blogger Nick Green writes at the 100 Percent Soccer blog at www.insidesocal.com/soccer and craft beer at the Beer Goggles blog at www.insidesocal.com/beer. Cheers!