Greetings distinguished members of the FIFA Executive Committee. My name is Landon Donovan and I thank you all very much for allowing me to be here today.
What Sunil said is right. This summer was a very exciting time for football in our country.
Over 100 million people watched the world cup back home, which i believe is indicative of just how far we have come as a footballing nation.
As I’ve grown as a player, so too has our country’s love for the game. And for both of us, it started in ‘94, when FIFA allowed us the honor of hosting the world cup.
I was only 12 years-old then, but after watching Argentina and Romania play in the Rose Bowl, a dream was born in me.
That dream was to emulate my heroes on the world’s biggest stage, and five years later, I was given that chance at the FIFA Under-17 World Championships. Like me, my teammates had all been inspired by what had happened in ‘94, and we couldn’t have been more proud to represent our country.
For me, that experience provided the international exposure that then allowed me to play in Europe, which led to my first caps with the U.S. team and finally a chance to play in the World Cup.
It started in 2002, and I’ll never forget walking out of the tunnel for our first game against Portugal, truly a dream come true for me.
Then again in 2006, and in particular our game against Italy in Kaiserslautern – still to this day one of my favorite moments as a soccer player.
And then finally back to this summer in South Africa. It was certainly an unforgettable experience for those of us who were there in person… but I never understood the true impact until I got back home. The World Cup captivated our country, we set new records for TV and online viewing and we truly inspired and unified a nation. For sure something very special happened this summer to our country’s love of the game.
The past 25 years have been a wonderful journey – both for me personally and for the sport of football in my country.
To think – Major League Soccer, a league that didn’t even exist when I was growing up, is now thriving, having just completed its 15th season, and is giving so many more players like me and from around the world a chance to follow their dreams.
I have not just seen how far we’ve come in the only 16 years since 1994. I’ve lived it, and believe me the progress is very real. However, I appreciate that many of you don’t have the opportunity to see that progress first-hand like we do so we’d like to show you a video that helps depict just how far we’ve come.
It shows you how passionate we are and how prepared we are to start the next quarter century of our footballing extraordinary growth.
Hosting the World Cup in 2022 will allow us to help complete the vision for football in America. The vision for the fans. For the game. And for the world.