> And having answered so I turn once more to those who sneer at this my city, and I give them back the sneer and say to them:
> Come and show me another city with lifted head singing so proud to be alive and coarse and strong and cunning.
> - Carl Sandburg, from his poem "Chicago"
I went to three international games at Soldier Field this summer. I was there for the US's thrilling 2-1 qualifier win over Honduras. I was there for the US's 2-0 Gold Cup Semifinal victory over Honduras. And I was there for Mexico's penalty kick victory over Costa Rica, again in the Gold Cup Semis.
Reflecting on those games, one thing stands out: the great atmospheres. Never before had I been to a soccer game with 60,000+ in attendance. Never before had I been to a group of matches that were so loud. Never before had I seen fans of four countries come together in one night to pack a stadium to its rafters in order to cheer on their homeland. Those nights made me proud to live in Chicago. Proud that our city was leading the way for all that was right about hosting international soccer events in the United States. So when I received the announcement last night that the USA Bid Committee had finalized its list of potential host cities for its bids for the 2018 or 2022 World Cups, I fully expected Chicago -- the nation's third largest media market and home to the US Soccer Federation -- to be on the list. I was rudely awakened when I found, [after following the link to the USA Bid Committee's website](http://www.gousabid.com/blog/entry/18-cities-included-in-the-us-bid-for-the-fifa-world-cup-in-2018-2022?utm_source=nonsigners&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=20100112), that it wasn't.
My first thought was disbelief. Call it an extreme case of civic pride, but I honestly thought that the website was wrong. I mean, how could the Bid Committee possibly exclude Chicago, one of the largest and most diverse cities in the entire nation? It had to be a mistake. But after reading through the list of potential bid cities again (a list that includes natural soccer hotbeds Indianapolis and Kansas City...) I was able to get it through my head that Chicago hadn't made the list.
At first I figured that the USA Bid Committee had made a completely boneheaded decision. But after a quick search around the internet for some answers, I came across [Pitch Invasion's report that Mayor Daley -- after spending $50 million on a failed Olympic bid -- put together an extremely weak proposal to host World Cup games](http://pitchinvasion.net/blog/2010/01/12/mayor-daley-denies-chicago-world-cup-opportunity/). The Bid Committee clearly thought that Chicago's proposal -- which FIFA would have seen prior to their selection of a host country -- wasn't good enough and acted accordingly.
In the end, it's a tremendous shame. The city has the stadium. Has a population that is interested in soccer. Has the transportation. Has the hotels. Has everything a Bid Committee could want in a potential host city. Everything except a good sales pitch.
But good pitch or bad pitch, I'm still confused as to why Chicago wasn't selected. I don't have answers as to why the committee thought that putting the country's 38th (Nashville) and 33rd (Indianapolis) largest markets ahead of Chicago makes sense. Was Chicago's bid really that bad? Was there something else going on here? Will we ever know?
But in the end, all those questions serve to do is mask the stark reality handed to us on Tuesday; Chicago, our city of broad shoulders, won't host a World Cup match if the U.S. is selected to host the tournament in 2018 or 2022. I don't know about you all, but I'm certainly giving "them back the sneer."
*Note -- I'll be back later on in the day with an update or two on the Fire. Be sure to check back for them.*