Obama invited to South Africa 2010

FIFA President Joseph S. Blatter was welcomed to the White House yesterday by US President Barack Obama. The Washington visit concluded the FIFA President's four-day trip to the USA. The delegation led by Joseph S. Blatter included FIFA Vice-President and CONCACAF President Jack Warner, FIFA Secretary General Jérôme Valcke and US Soccer Federation President Sunil Gulati. The FIFA President held numerous meetings with representatives from the worlds of sport and politics during his trip and, accompanied by FIFA Secretary General Jérôme Valcke, attended the final of the 2009 CONCACAF Gold Cup at Giants Stadium in New York. During the meeting at the White House, the FIFA President took the opportunity to officially invite Barack Obama to the 2010 FIFA World Cup™ in South Africa.

Joseph S. Blatter presented the US President with a personally signed certificate inviting Obama and his family to all of the matches of the 2010 FIFA World Cup in South Africa. Barack Obama said he would have his schedule checked to see when it would be possible for him to attend the upcoming World Cup.

Among the topics the US President discussed with Joseph S. Blatter was the USA's bid to host either the 2018 or 2022 World Cup. Barack Obama also acknowledged the work carried out by FIFA and the FIFA President Joseph S. Blatter, commending in particular FIFA's efforts in respect of the 2010 FIFA World Cup in South Africa, which also incorporate community service, education and public health projects. Joseph S. Blatter presented the US President with a football from the final of the Confederations Cup, held in South Africa in June, which the USA lost 3-2 to Brazil.

Stimulating discussions with Swiss ambassadors
Directly after his visit to the White House, Joseph S. Blatter met with the Swiss ambassador to the USA, Urs Ziswiler. The meeting, which was also attended by Sunil Gulati, was held at the ambassador's residence in Washington. The discussions centred on the FIFA President's visit to the White House as well as Swiss sports politics. The day before, the FIFA President had met with the Swiss ambassador to the United Nations, Peter Maurer. Among the topics they touched on were the football-based development projects FIFA is implementing worldwide - particularly in Africa - with the support of the United Nations.

Increasing popularity of football in the USA
Joseph S. Blatter held animated discussions with Jack Warner and Sunil Gulati in New York on Saturday about the potential for the further development of football in the USA. The FIFA President stressed in particular the importance of football having its own stadiums, as existing American stadiums are often too big. Blatter also argued that the US match calendar should be brought in line with the international match calendar to encourage more top US players to play in the national league. Currently, many top US players are signed to European clubs.

Major coverage in the US media
The FIFA President's four-day trip to the USA was given major coverage in the North American media. Further interest was generated by the 2009 CONCACAF Gold Cup final between the USA and Mexico held at the Giants Stadium (New Jersey) on Sunday, which Mexico won 5-0.

Official statement from the White House
(released on 27 July 2009 by the Office of the Press Secretary)

Readout of the President's Meeting with FIFA President Joseph Blatter
The President welcomed FIFA President Blatter to the White House and urged Mr. Blatter to give strong consideration to the US bid to host the World Cup in either 2018 or 2022. During the half-hour meeting in the Oval Office, President Obama complimented FIFA on their efforts to incorporate community service, education and public health projects into their plans for staging the 2010 World Cup in South Africa. President Obama thanked Mr. Blatter for inviting him to attend next year's event and said he hoped his schedule would allow him to do so. The President also thanked Mr. Blatter for the soccer balls that he brought with him as a gift for the President's soccer-playing daughters.