U.S. Group Prepares for 1994 World Cup
FENTON, Mo. (AP) _ Getting the 1994 World Cup might have been the easy part. Now the U.S. Soccer Federation and the World Cup ’94 Organizing Committee have to pull off the world’s most-watched sporting event.
And much of the burden has fallen to Scott LeTellier, the 38-year-old California corporate attorney who has been directing the Organizing Committee for 8 1/2 months.
First he had to convince Manufacturer’s Hanover Trust to establish a line of credit. Then it was on to things like lining up stadiums, working out a television deal and putting together a staff.
″By the time I had concluded the Manufacturer’s Hanover line (July 10), I had not received any compensation for a four-month period and it was getting increasingly uncomfortable and the difficulty was having to be a one-man band doing everything,″ LeTellier said.
″I didn’t have any money to hire anybody else to get what we needed to do,″ said LeTellier. ″But we’re back in a semblance of being able, have the wherewithal to do what we need.″
LeTellier now has a staff of four, which has started several projects.
First, it was stadiums.
When USSF submitted its bid to FIFA, soccer’s international authority, two years ago, it listed 18 potential sites that fit several requirements and each of which signed a condensed contract that said it would meet certain conditions necessary to host World Cup games.
Since that time it has dropped one site and added three for a total of 20. LeTellier hopes to have the eight-to-12 sites needed for the competition by mid-1992.
A more immediate problem for LeTellier and his group is a television contract that was negotiated over the summer for the English-speaking rights in the United States.
Since it has not signed any corporate sponsorships as of yet, World Cup ’94 is not generating income and is living off it’s line of credit.
That would change and rights fees would become available immediately if the television contract was approved by FIFA.
The deal, as presented to FIFA, would sell the rights for $11.5 million to a partnership consisting of NBC and Sportschannel America, whose parent, Rainbow Programming Enterprises, is half-owned by NBC; C&W Associates, a New York-based sports marketing firm; and Pascoe Nally International, the sponsorship division of British communications giant WCRS Group.
The $11.5 million would be used for two things to hire the European Broadcast Union, a cartel of Western European television networks, to provide a worldwide satellite feed of every game, which is an obligation of the World Cup host, and house an international broadcast center operation, another obligation.
Also as part of the deal, NBC.SCA will air 280 hours of National Team coverage between now and 1994 and C&W and Pascoe Nally will have the rights to negotiate sponsorship deals for the USSF and the National teams. These rights will result in the partnership providing the USSF with no less than $1 million a year for the next six years for its National teams program. The existence of a television contract would enable World Cup ’94 to attact sponsors, and thus, generate income.
But the contract has been held up by FIFA. Complaints to FIFA from CBS, ABC, ESPN, which has broadcast several U.S. Olympic and World Cup qualifying games, and TBS, which has the U.S. English-speaking rights for the 1990 World Cup, initially caused the world body to say it would reject the deal because it was reached without competitive bidding.
But FIFA now says it will defer a decision on the deal until a Dec. 8 meeting in Rome.
Additionally, World Cup ’94 is beginning its search for the eight major corporations that will be suppliers to the the committee.
LeTellier is not only looking for a substantial dollar contribution, but help from the companies in loaning top executives in areas critical to staging an event like the World Cup, particularly in the areas of transportation, communication and computer technology.
″With venues scattered all across the country, and the number of dollars we start burning up in airplane tickets and hotel bills, we want to get special arrangements so that we can be working off credits with a major supplier as a hotel chain or airline to defray those type of costs,″ LeTellier said.
Running the 1994 World Cup isn’t all that new to LeTellier. With the Los Angeles Olympic Organizing Committee, he initially served as assistant vice president.sports, which gave him the responsibility of managing 11 different Olympic sports including soccer, equestrian events and baseball.
Later, as legal counsel for the LAOOC, he negotiated and finalized contracts with competition sites, transportation, concessions, merchandising, and licensing.
Like the Olympics, one problem LeTellier probably won’t have to worry about is generating interest. The awarding of the World Cup itself seems to have taken care of that.
″Soccer in the United States has gotten considerable more press than it did preceding the announcement of the World Cup coming here,″ said USSF President Werner Fricker. ″The national teams have gotten good coverage.
″Already there are clear benefits,″ Fricker said. ″The general public has heard more about the World Cup and that has been the most significant benefit. But it is probably the hardest thing to measure.″
The USSF has had capacity or near capacity crowds for each of its World Cup qualifying games since last July.
″The whole awareness of the (National) team as we move toward Italy (the 1990 World Cup) I think certainly helped,″ Gulati said. ″The World Cup coming here, all of that.″
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