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The Red and Black (Athens, Ga.) 1893-current, December 08, 2010, Page 10, Image 10

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Wednesday, December 8, aoio | The Red a Black 10 FIFA’s World Cup destination 'questionable at best’ Like many Americans who had been following the United States’ bid to host the 2022 World Cup, I found last Thursday’s announcement that the tournament will be held In a country the size of Connecticut with a population less than that of Houston to be surprising, to say the least. I understand that it’s FIFA’s job to promote soccer around the world, and that giving the tournament to Qatar will help develop the sport In the Middle East. But when compared to the U.S. bid, the'choice of Qatar seems questionable, at best. The proposed venues alone underscore the strength of the U.S. bid. The smallest stadium the U.S. proposed as a possible venue was the 67,500-seat Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis. That’s bigger than all but one of the stadiums proposed by Qatar. Lucas Oil Stadium is also differ ent from nine of Qatar’s pro posed stadiums in that it, like all of the proposed U.S. venues, I Shop Peach Mac this Holiday. I . - ~ | * * fIE You give one present. 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The three stadiums that do exist have a combined capacity of just less than Sanford Stadium’s 92,746, though they plan to expand to be larger by the World Cup. Beyond the venues, the U.S. bid would have given unprece dented attention to the world’s most popular sport, and played a mstfor role in expanding the sport to the world’s third-largest country. FIFA, which earns most of its income from the World Cup on ticket sales, also missed great potential for profit in the U.S. The 1994 World Cup, held in the U.S., set a record with 3.6 million attendees, a record that still stands even though 12 more games have been added to the schedule since the 1994 SPORTS tournament. Perhaps, as ESPN reported, FIFA’s delegates were Impressed by the visions of spaceship-llke stadiums, and the slick video Qatar put together to promote their bid. Perhaps the U.S. bid was hurt by the relative lack of star power, as President Barack Obama’s satellite-feed address paled in comparison to the French soccer star, Zinedine Zidane, who Qatar hired especially for the occasion. But the U.S. shouldn’t have been penalized because Morgan Freeman skipped a page In his speech and Obama stayed home to avoid being criticized by Michelle Bachmann for ever spending money on a trip. But all these facts have been widely disseminated since the announcement. How did FIFA’s mistake affect Georgia? Though Sanford Stadium which saw the final soccer matches of the 1996 Olympics was announced as a potential venue last year, President Michael Adams didn’t apply for Athens to move on to the next This game features the two top-ranked freshman quarterbacks in the country in passing efficiency in Aaron Murray and Central Florida’s Jeff Godfrey. Murray is more of a pure passer, while Godfrey is the type of dual threat quarterback that has given the Georgia defense night mares on the year. On the season, Godfrey has averaged 200 yards per game of total offense and is the team’s second-leading rusher. He has two solid options at receiver to throw to in Jamar Newsome and Brian Watters, who have 597 and 594 yards receiving on the season, respec tively. Both quarterbacks have led their respective squads to similar scor ing numbers. Georgia ranks No. 23 in the country at 34.2 points per game, with the Knights just behind at 33.8 points per game. Georgia’s rushing game has been a nightmare for much of the sea son due to an underperforming offensive line and running backs that can’t stay out of trouble or stay healthy. Asa result, Georgia owns the 72nd-ranked rushing offense in the country with a mere 147.7 yards per game. And Central Florida definitely doesn’t appear to be the opponent for the Georgia running game to end the season on the right track. The Knights have been incredibly stout all season against the run, giving up only 110.3 yards per game on the ground good for 10th nationally. Georgia’s ability, or inability, to get the ground game going will play a major role in who is able to end its season on a high note. Statistically speaking, the Bulldogs and Knights are eerily similar. Talent-wise, not so much. The Knights play in the historically soft Con ference USA, and won’t be able to hang with the Bulldogs from a talent perspective. But coach George O’Leary has won everywhere he’s been and that trend has continued at Central Florida, where he recently won the conference championship after winning eight of its last nine. Georgia head coach Mark Richt and O’Leary have faced off just once before in 2001 when O’Leary coached Georgia Tech —and Richt got the best of that matchup. Richt will have to ensure his team doesn’t take a win for granted against O’Leary’s bunch and is ready to play. “The U.S. bid would have given unprecedented attention to the world’s most popular sport and played a major role in expanding the sport to the world’s third-largest country.” venue. Nonetheless, Atlanta was one of 18 finalist cities In the 2022 bid, and hopefully that meant we would have seen World Cup soccer in the Georgia Dome in 12 years. And the Dome would have been an excellent choice for a World Cup venue. The city is a great home to professional and college sports teams, and is increasingly devot ed to soccer. The Dome hosted an exhibition between Italy’s AC Milan and Mexico’s Club America last summer, and I saw traffic stopped well along the Downtown Connector en route to the game. With the return of LIBERTY BOWL Georgia limps into the Liberty Bowl with a 6-6 record, while Central Florida is flying high at 10-3 fresh off a Conference USA championship. The two teams have met just once before, a 24-23 Georgia win in 1999, and a win would ensure Georgia’s 14th straight winning season. Nick Parker THE KEY MATCHUPS: Bulldogs vs. Knights Aaron Murray vs. Jeff Godfrey Washaun Ealey/Caleb King vs. Knight defense Mark Richt vs. George O’Leary *Ne?d a Great'Gift I tieS** mmfc' ■.<&;■ .••*-*#' .-* ~#**mrnmtmm : jujs lb. can of Georgia Grown^ Peanuts for $6 per can £ Jt * _ 4 m?, ~. , , _ . Honey Roasteand Pickup Room •> 1 1 \ i’ Sri. Bid. I)<•<• 7. 8; 9 from d-spm Pickup: l’( i \ (101 l ( 'M,i(>(' Porkin# Rot-. Dot* 9, 10 from 4-6 pm ■■ ' : : ■■ & . ■•'. 4 ■•' •; ■ ... ; . ■•- o. • '•■ _ i; Th< t JGA fiii I iiul ('luhs t .lit < ()().2i4()! t>r mionii.'U run - - - • I AAA AIRPORT EXPRESS. INC. : ; Athens • aii an 'r Shuttle Service to Airport! *45 PER PERSON, ONE WAY |St jJr®m W® _ i'B ~Tf in WS bßh| 9Ghk m jbtmmSp jffi H 8 8 j I mm W 1 Hi exp* 12/31/10 ™ gj| (800) 354-7874 Call for Reservations the Atlanta Beat to Kennesaw this summer, the metro area also supports a professional soccer team, and the new Beat stadium has hosted international exhibi tions as well. In addition, Atlanta was Intended to serve as the interna tional broadcast center for the Cup, and this is where FIFA has directly affected the University. Just as Georgia sports informa tion director extraordinaire Claude Felton served in media relations during the 1996 Olympics, Grady graduates would have the chance of work ing for PR for the World Cup. And since print journalism is dying, that’s probably a chance we’ll have to take. Basically, because the 2022 World Cup’s International Broadcast Center will be in a 130-degree desert rather than temperate Buckhead, I will have one less opportunity for employ ment in 12 years. Thanks, FIFA. Robbie Ottley is a stajf writer for The Red <& Black MURRAY EALEY