In the global marketplace of international sport, national loyalties rarely infringe upon good business. American companies regularly work with organizations outside of the country to further the aspirations of others even while their peers are working diligently for the benefit of domestic concerns.
So goes the big business of bidding for the 2018 and 2022 FIFA World Cup.
The United States Soccer Federation has assembled a veritable "Who's Who" of nationally recognized leaders in their push to win another USA World Cup. David Downs, CEO of Univision, leads the bid as executive director, with USSF President Sunil Gulati, MLS Commissioner Don Garber, former Secretary of State Henry Kissinger, and California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger also on the committee. The bid formally kicked off via a website, GoUSABid.com, just a few weeks ago, and includes the slickly-packaged marketing elements that one would expect in such a well-funded venture.
But the American bid isn't the only one with American know-how behind it. Russia's bid, backed strongly by the country's president, Vladimir Putin, has its own sports marketing experts. Helios Partners, based in Atlanta, has been appointed by Russia's sports ministry to lead that nation's efforts to secure one of the two World Cups up for grabs.
The firm previously directed Russia's bid for the 2014 Winter Olympics, a bid that resulted in success when the games were awarded to the city of Sochi.
“This is an opportunity for us to again help bring Russia to the forefront of international sport,” said Terrence Burns, President of Helios Partners. “Russia is a new nation looking forward, but it retains an historical position as a meeting place of east and west thanks to its geographic and cultural diversity. Russia would be an historic choice for FIFA’s World Cup, expanding the reach of this great event while enhancing the nation’s social, economic and sports infrastructure.”
Helios also pitched the USSF in an effort to obtain the job of leading the US bid, but failed to reach an agreement with the American soccer leadership. With their previous history of working with Russia, moving on to the task of pushing a bid for that nation's first ever World Cup fit into place.
The firm believes that although technically competing due to the dual bid nature of this round of World Cup hosting decisions, the United States and Russia are actually not rivals. With "common knowledge" indicating that a European World Cup is in the cards for 2018, which would leave Russia competing with fellow UEFA members, the US bid would be more likely to succeed in 2022.
Helios is now focused on the task of producing Russia's World Cup Bid Book, an all-encompassing document that outlines the technical plan of hosting the tournament. Each candidate nation must submit their bid book to FIFA in May of 2010.
“We are very pleased to have Helios working on behalf of Russia once again,” said Russian Football Union General Secretary Alexei Sorokin, referring to Helios’ previous success in leading Russia’s bid for the 2014 Olympic Winter Games in Sochi, Russia. “Helios is the perfect coach for our team; their skills and experience are an ideal fit and they will undoubtedly give us the best chance to secure the privilege of hosting the FIFA World Cup.”
Globalization means many things, and exhibits itself in many arenas. But perhaps it is most obvious in sport, where the hosting of a World Cup or Olympic Games is not only about money, but also about the honor and prestige of welcoming the world into one's country. Russia has aspirations of showing themselves for the football world though a World Cup, and an American company based in Atlanta, Georgia will be on board to help them achieve their goal.