Chicago site seen likely for FIFA Baltimore's hopes hinged on D.C. game


Baltimore apparently will lose out on its bid to be the site of the one of the world's biggest sports conventions, the FIFA Congress, because Washington isn't expected to hold the opening game of the 1994 World Cup soccer tournament.

FIFA is soccer's international governing body and historically holds its biennial congress in conjunction with the opening game. The U.S. organizing committee for the World Cup has announced it will recommend that the opening game of the 24-nation tournament be held at Soldier Field in Chicago.

The congress probably will be held in Chicago as well, though one soccer official said the site of the congress has not been made final.

World Cup USA 1994 also said it will recommend the Rose Bowl in Pasadena, Calif., as the site for the final game of the tournament, which starts June 17, 1994.

The news wasn't all bad for Washington. John Koskinen, the co-chair of that city's World Cup host committee, said he has learned that Washington will play host to four round-robin preliminary games and one in the round of 16.

"We're excited about getting five games here," said Koskinen. "But we spent a lot of time working on obtaining the opening game, and from that point we are disappointed."

Koskinen said FIFA officials had been "very favorably impressed" during an earlier tour of Baltimore facilities that could hold the congress.

"We felt the fact that we are in the nation's capital and that Baltimore made such a favorable impression were two strong selling points for our opening-game bid," Koskinen said.

"But our stadium capacity couldn't be overcome, especially not after the United States Soccer Federation moved its offices to Chicago."

Soldier Field seats 66,946 for football, compared with RFK Stadium's capacity of 55,672.

RFK is the smallest of the nine U.S. stadiums selected to hold World Cup games.

The Rose Bowl and Giants Stadium in East Rutherford, N.J., will be recommended as sites for the semifinals, according to U.S. officials.

The recommendations will be presented Monday by World Cup USA 1994, and the official announcement is slated Monday after a FIFA meeting in Zurich, Switzerland.

The other cities picked as sites for the World Cup are: the Cotton Bowl in Dallas; Citrus Bowl in Orlando, Fla.; Stanford Stadium in Palo Alto, Calif.; Foxboro Stadium in Foxboro, Mass.; and the Silverdome in Pontiac, Mich.

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