This is an invitation.
Come and join the biggest party in sport...
Come salsa with the Brazilians, enjoy the romance of the game with the French, the pure enthusiasm of the Japanese fans, the power, pace and skill of the African teams. See if the Italians can hold on to their crown...
They'll all be there in South Africa in 2010 for the Soccer World Cup. And we want America to be there too - not just in name this time, but in spirit. After flirting with soccer for quite a long time now, we want America to throw itself into a proper meaningful relationship with the game.
So, what can we offer you? What does this invitation include?
We can offer you the world game. This is the sport that is played from Azerbaijan to Australia. From Barbados to Bengal. From Cairo to Caracas. You get my point. Soccer is a world language. I am a Londoner and I don't speak any Bulgarian. But I can make best friends with anyone from Sofia by simply saying two words: Dimitar Berbatov [the Bulgarian who is one of the most skillful players in the game].
I see on the news reports here that, at the moment, there is a feeling in the States that some of you want your new President to bring America more 'in tune' with the rest of the world, to link in more with the global community. Well, sport in general and soccer in particular have powers of friendship and companionship that you wouldn't believe. Never was this better exemplified than in the great European War of 1914-1918 when, for one day and one day alone, the German and British forces on either side of No Man's Land, put down their weapons and met in the middle for a game of soccer. It binds people like almost nothing else.
We can also offer you something extra special. Something that many fans of the game attest is 'better than sex'. That, my friends, is a goal. That moment that the ball hits the net is like a touchdown, a try, and a home run, all rolled into one. Believe me, that bolt of lightning that rockets up your spine when you see your team strike home a shot. That's something you have to experience.
And why do we want you? Because, however much we may not like to say it, without you, there'll always be something missing for us. You'll make the sport even bigger and more exciting than it is now. And, if you commit all your massive resources to it, there's no doubt you'll raise the standard of world soccer to a new level. Brazil and Italy have been the two most successful countries in the history of world soccer to date.
But I'm really looking forward to the day when the big competitions are contested by heavyweight teams supported by delirious fans of every continent. We already have Asia, Africa, South America and Europe in love with soccer, now we just need North America to fall under the spell of the beautiful game.
So what do you do? How do you join in? After all, you already have some excellent players, a burgeoning league [the MLS], and an international side which is regularly ranked in the top ten. No, what we're talking about here is just that final step of soccer entering into the country's collective consciousness.
That collective spark of anticipation on the day that America have a big World Cup Qualifier, that sense of unity that sees the whole workforce gather around their tv sets when it's time for the opening ceremony to be beamed back from South Africa in June 2010.
In the end, of course, you can't force people to enjoy things. Ultimately, America will make her own decision. But, if you do accept our invitation, I do believe that both America and Soccer will gain something really special: the first true sport of the world.