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March 20, 2010
Beckenbauer likes Red Bull Arena

By Charles Cuttone
Executive Editor

Soccer legend Franz Beckenabuer spoke to the media before the grand opening of Red Bull Arena.
Soccer legend Franz Beckenabuer spoke to the media before the grand opening of Red Bull Arena.
Linda Cuttone/Sports Vue Images
HARRISON, NJ---Having Franz Beckenbauer at the opening of Red Bull Arena was a lot like bringing in the Pope to bless the opening of a new church.
“It’s a real home,” Beckenbauer said of the stadium less than an hour before the Red Bulls and Santos kicked off the grand opening of the $200 million facility. “It’s a fantastic soccer stadium, and the capacity is perfect.”

Beckenbauer, who played for the Cosmos during two different stints in his illustrious career, made his debut with the Cosmos in 1977, joining a team that already had the incomparable Pele and Italian scoring star Giorgio Chinaglia.

He is impressed with the growth of the game in the United States since then.

“When I first came in, 1977, almost no one was playing the game, now almost 20 million (play)” he said. Beckenbauer was also impressed by the level of competiveness of the U.S. National Team.

“In World Cup 2002, you faced Germany in the quarterfinals and almost beat them,” he offered with a smile. “It takes time,” he said for a country to reach elite levels of the game. “Its also a question of tradition.”

Beckenbauer, who acts as an advisor to Red Bulls owner Dieter Mateschitz, advised him on his entry into soccer, first with Austria Salzburg and then with the purchase of the former MetroStars.

“The interest in soccer is still there,” Beckenbauer said he told the Austrian businessman, pointing out that “The base is more solid than it was 30-40 years ago.”

Beckenabuer, who served as the head of Germany’s successful bid to host the 2006 World Cup and then was President of the organizing committee, said the United States should host another World Cup, but not until 2022, after Europe gets another turn at the event.

“The U.S. bidding team is a very strong team, they have a chance,” he said.

The United States, Australia, England, Indonesia, Japan and Russia have formally declared their desire to host the FIFA World Cup in 2018 or 2022. Netherlands-Belgium and Portugal-Spain have each submitted joint bids for the 2018 and 2022 tournaments, while Qatar and South Korea have applied as candidates to play host only to the tournament in 2022.

All candidates must have their bid applications to FIFA by May 14, 2010. FIFA’s 24 member Executive Committee will study the bids, conduct site visits and name the two hosts for the 2018 and 2022 tournaments in December 2010, completing a 21-month bid and review process.
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