Union's Hackworth: 'I don't know that we're truly doing what's good for the game'

Philadelphia Union assistant coach John Hackworth has dealt with FIFA plenty of times in his career on the sidelines. From 2004 to 2007, he was in charge of the United States Under-17 National team, and from 2007 to 2009 he was an assistant coach to Bob Bradley with the senior national team.

So I knew I had to ask Hackworth for his thoughts on how the World Cup bidding process was conducted after FIFA's announcements yesterday. He had plenty to say, and I think his words are worth listening to.

"I'd like to say that I'm surprised, but at the same time, this is somewhat typical of the way FIFA works," Hackworth said. "That's unfortunate, because I really think it was a decision that should have very easily gone our way for 2022, but it didn't."

I asked if he thought FIFA needed some reforms given the allegations and reports of corruption in the bidding process.

"I think a lot of revelations are going to come out of this whole bid process, and I hope that it does get cleaned up," he answered. "The reality is that this is such a huge, huge business right now that there's so much politics involved."

And then, amid a statement that carried quite a few heavy pauses, this conclusion:

"I don't know that we're truly doing what's good for the game."

There are a lot of people out there who think that taking the World Cup to Russia and Qatar  for the first time is a good thing, because it spreads the game to parts of the planet where it has never been before.

I would like to agree with them. There is nothing wrong with that principle, as we saw in South Africa this year and indeed in the United States in 1994.

As I've said on here many times, though, it is the process by which we got to yesterday's decision that has rubbed me the wrong way.

When I talked to Nowak yesterday, I could tell that he was also unsettled by the morning's events.

"This is only speculation, why Qatar was voted - maybe like South Africa, they wanted to open new markets," he said. "But I'm very surprised and disappointed at the choice from FIFA."

This much is for certain, though: soccer is not going to stop growing in the United States. Union CEO Nick Sakiewicz, who has been a key player in the sport's evolution in this country for decades, insisted on being optimistic when I asked him where things go from here.

"It has been [growing] for the last 25 years, and we're going to see the next 25 years explode," Sakiewicz said. "Soccer continues to grow, and will continue to grow. I said that in 1983 when I started my pro career, and it continues to grow."

Part of that growth may be a bid for the 2026 World Cup. As disappointing as yesterday's loss was, a lot of people expect the United States to throw its hat right back into the ring. Philadelphia Sports Congress president Larry Needle is very much one of those people.

"I have no doubt that when the time is right, we'll be ready to move forward as a country putting together an incredibly strong bid again," Needle told me.

It will be interesting to see, though, whether a 2026 bid comes with as much fanfare and grassroots marketing as there was in the the 2022 bid.

"It wasn't the finances as much as it was the heart and the elbow grease that we've put into this over the last two years," Needle said. "I think we can all feel like we literally did everything we can do, and it's one of those things that's just out of everyone's control."

We'll see if that latter statement is still true the next time around.

You can hear more from Hackworth, Nowak, Sakiewicz and Needle in the audio player at the bottom of the post.

Here's a roundup of some of the best stories on the World Cup bid news from here in Philadelphia, across the United States and around the world.

Local coverage

World Cup site decisions sparks theories in United States
by Marc Narducci, The Philadelphia Inquirer

In Phila., disappointment as U.S. fails by Marc Narducci, The Philadephia Inquirer

United States, Philly forced to wait until 2026 after FIFA snub by Kerith Gabriel, Philadelphia Daily News

One explanation for snubbing of America, England: FIFA's politics by Frank Bertucci, Philadelphia Daily News

National coverage

FIFA awards 2022 World Cup to tiny Qatar by Steven Goff, The Washington Post

Russia and Qatar win World Cup bids by Jeré Longman, The New York Times

U.S. should know there's no sulking in soccer by George Vescey, The New York Times

Qatar a questionable World Cup host by Nate Silver, NYTimes.com/FiveThirtyEight

FIFA shows it's either stupid or corrupt, or both
by Filip Bondy, New York Daily  News

In a soccer shocker, FIFA awards World Cups to Russia and Qatar by Grahame L. Jones, The Los Angeles Times

Qatar? Really? FIFA awards 2022 World Cup to soccer-poor, oil-rich Qatar by Steve Kelley, The Seattle Times

Cup vote raises questions
by Frank Dell'Apa, The Boston Globe

Did U.S. get suckered? FIFA appears as corrupt as ever by Jose de Jesus Ortiz, The Houston Chronicle

Choice of Russia and Qatar as hosts raises questions of FIFA integrity by Grant Wahl, SI.com

FIFA's choices of Russia and Qatar show its desire to leave a legacy
by Gabriele Marcotti, SI.com

Defeat will be Gulati's legacy
by Jeff Carlisle, ESPN.com

International coverage

Losers left fuming by FIFA politics by Andrew Orsatti, Soccernet.com

Begging for votes by Brian Glanville, WorldSoccer.com

Selections challenge soccer's past and future by Rob Hughes, International Herald-Tribune

FIFA should be ashamed while the FA must reflect following the World Cup 2018 vote by Henry Winter, The Telegraph

Russia and Qatar's victories represent a 'Doomsday scenario' for FIFA by Paul Kelso, The Telegraph

Qatar's hosting of the 2022 World Cup finals is Fifa's most dangerous move yet
by Jeremy Wilson, The Telegraph

Warner gives Cameron a lesson in the brutal realities of FIFA politics by Sam Wallace, The Independent

A defeat, but one we can take pride in by James Lawton, The Independent

Not for first time England are played for fools by big tease Jack Warner by Matt Dickinson, The Times of London (behind a paywall)

Don’t get angry, get even in the FIFA political stakes by Gabriele Marcotti, The Times of London (behind a paywall)

Cup vote hides the ultimate betrayal by Dan Silkstone, The Sydney Morning Herald

The moment Lowy knew Cup bid was lost by Peter Wilson, The Australian

Iberian deception by Miguel Ángel Lara and Fran Villalobos, Marca (in Spanish)

Russia: The World Cup? 'Too expensive' by Agence France-Presse and L'Équipe (French)

World Cups to Russia and Qatar - Obama: "Wrong decision" by La Gazzetta Dello Sport (Italian)