Obama to World Cup? Well, if U.S. team reaches the finals….
President Barack Obama has said he might make the trip to this summer’s soccer World Cup in South Africa — but won’t commit unless the U.S. team reaches the finals, according to South Africa’s foreign minister.
Maite Nkoana-Mashabane, at the State Department to formally launch the new U.S.-South Africa “strategic dialogue” agreement, said Obama had indicated he might be lured to the World Cup, which begins on June 11 and holds its final at Soccer City in Johannesburg on July 11.
“I remember him saying that he would — maybe — consider coming if the American team goes to the quarter finals, might come if they reach the semi-finals and WILL come if they are to the finals,” Nkoana-Mashabane said at the signing ceremony, earning a laugh from Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.
“I was a witness!” Clinton said.
Nkoana-Mashabane said South Africa — the first African host for soccer’s premier global event — would even be happy with Vice President Joe Biden.
“We would be more than keen to receive the vice president. He didn’t put any conditionalities. I’m sure he would be happy just to be there,” she said.
The White House is juggling a number of travel commitments during June and July and has not said whether Obama will make the trip.
Photo credit: Reuters/Larry Downing (Obama heads a gift soccer ball while walking back to the Oval Office in July 2009)