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Obama schedules soccer summit in Soccer City
Posted By John Turnbull On 23 June 2009 @ 07:15 In Africa,Asia,South Africa,USA | No Comments
Cape Town | Barack Obama has put executive-branch muscle and street soccer cred behind the United States bid for the 2018 or 2022 World Cup finals. According to Sepp Blatter, the U.S. president will also log serious Air Force One time to attend 2010 Opening Ceremonies at Soccer City outside Johannesburg next June.
Obama lobbied Blatter in April with a letter to back the U.S. bid effort. “It is important to me personally,” Obama writes . “As a child, I played soccer on a dirt road in Jakarta, and the game brought the children of my neighborhood together. As a father, I saw that same spirit of unity alive on the fields and sidelines of my own daughters’ soccer games in Chicago.”
The White House as of Jun 22 had not confirmed  the president’s trip, although press secretary Robert Gibbs, a former goalkeeper  for North Carolina State University, said that “a small group of us have assembled in order to move the president in that direction.” Defending champion Italy or South Africa would play in the first match.
Obama, a West Ham supporter whose father was from Kenya, would be the first American president to attend a World Cup match abroad and would secure his administration’s reputation, by some distance, as the most football-friendly in history. Argentine generals guided former U.S. secretary of state Henry Kissinger around Estadio Gigante de Arroyito in Rosario in 1978 when Argentina beat Peru 6–0 in the World Cup’s penultimate game. But Kissinger was a private citizen at the time.
Bill Clinton attended Opening Ceremonies in Chicago in 1994 and stuck around to watch Germany beat Bolivia 1–0 . Those festivities were marred by unfortunate incidents—Oprah Winfrey falling off the dais and Diana Ross missing a pre-match penalty. After her miskick, the goal collapsed.
Little is known of Obama’s days as a street footballer. He retains knowledge of some Indonesian and a taste for meatball soup, nasi goreng and rambutan . Following a phone chat  with Indonesian president Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono in March, Yudhoyono’s spokesman reported that “when President [Yudhoyono] began with, ‘Apa kabar?’ [How are you?], Obama answered in Indonesian, ‘Baik-baik’ [I’m fine].”
He plays beach soccer with his family on Hawai’i holidays. Perhaps Obama’s South Africa trip, if it comes off, will help quell continued surprise abroad at North American interest in soccer. Laurine Platzky, a World Cup coordinator in Cape Town, said she had not expected Americans and Canadians to number among top ticket buyers  for 2010. “Canada? Is that a big soccer country?” she asked.
A nation strong on symbols, South Africa might supply another—two sons of Africa, Obama and Nelson Mandela, surveying a green pitch near Soweto and singing a freedom song.
Article printed from The Global Game: http://www.theglobalgame.com/blog
URL to article: http://www.theglobalgame.com/blog/2009/06/south-africa-barack-in-time-to-settle-2010-security-concerns/
URLs in this post:
 SDN Menteng 01: http://www.sdnmenteng01-jkt.org/
 15-minute silences: http://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2008/11/06/jakarta-celebrates-menteng-kid%E2%80%99s-victory.html
 writes: http://ussoccer.com/articles/viewArticle.jsp_13828103.html
 had not confirmed: http://www.google.com/hostednews/afp/article/ALeqM5ihv2kwjCG_mUDMgXlFSYttZLK_Sw
 goalkeeper: http://projects.newsobserver.com/under_the_dome/gibbs_to_be_obamas_goalie
 Germany beat Bolivia 1–0: http://www.independent.co.uk/sport/football--world-cup-usa-94-klinsmann-plays-the-talisman-germans-have-an-ominous-look-as-their-prolific-goalscorer-strikes-the-first-blow--richard-williams-in-chicago-senses-enduring-power-in-the-champions-opening-shot-1423509.html
 meatball soup, nasi goreng and rambutan: http://obamafoodorama.blogspot.com/2009/01/barack-as-indonesian-gourmandand-peace.html
 a phone chat: http://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2009/03/14/obama-asks-indonesia-%E2%80%98join-hands%E2%80%99.html
 top ticket buyers: http://www.cbssports.com/worldcup/story/11800273/rss
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