SAN DIEGO—The City Council Tuesday is expected to put San Diego forward as one of the cities where soccer's World Cup matches would be played if the United States is selected to host the tournament in 2018 or 2022.
Proponents of the idea aren't waiting for the council, however. Monday, they launched a peition drive to support the city's bid for the event. Boosters hope that at least 50,000 San Diegans will sign on to bring the matches to town. The World Cup is considered the most popular sporting event in the world.
"It's amazing cause its really intense, the best soccer players in the world come," said 10-year-old World Cup hopeful Townsend Meyer.
San Diego is one of 27 cities selected as finalists. The U.S. Bid Committee will narrow that number down to 18 by next month.
Former World Cup player Roy Lassiter is now coaching youth in Ocean Beach and supports the push to bring the games to San Diego.
"For a youth player to go and watch would change their mentality of the game. It would give them inspiration to go forward to one day be a part of that event," Lassiter said. "When you are on that field, you can't hear your own teammates talk, so its really phenomenal environment."
City officials estimate 72,000 kids and adults play soccer in San Diego County. If the World Cup comes to the city, it could also brig $300 to $500 million in tourism revenue, along with some 8,000 jobs, officials estimate.
Supporters of San Diego's World Cup bid can sign the petition at the the U.S. Bid Committee's Web site.