Sat, May 29, 2010 - Page 18 News List

‘Rooting for you,’ Obama tells US team

AFP , WASHINGTON

US President Barack Obama, front center, Vice President Joe Biden, front left, and former president Bill Clinton, front right, admire the shoes of the US soccer team during a photo opportunity at the White House in Washington on Thursday.

PHOTO: REUTERS

US President Barack Obama told the US World Cup squad he would be pulling for them as they represent the country on one of sport’s greatest world stages next month in South Africa.

Obama acknowledged that the soccer extravaganza didn’t always resonate with US sports fans, but he told the team they had plenty of support.

“Everybody is going to be rooting for you. Although sometimes we don’t remember here in the United States, this is going to be the biggest world [stage] and you’re going to be representing all of us,” he said. “We are incredibly proud of what you’ve done already.”

Obama said he would be keeping tabs on the players’ progress at the World Cup.

“You will have somebody in the Oval Office who’s going to be watching ESPN to make sure that things are going OK,” he said.

US Vice President Joe Biden, who will attend the US’ World Cup opener against England on June 12, was also at the White House to greet the team. Also on hand was former US president Bill Clinton, who was recently named honorary chairman of the bid committee trying to bring the World Cup to the US in 2018 or 2022.

Clinton, who also plans to attend some World Cup matches, was taken with the team’s attire for the visit — particularly their tan dress shoes.

“I want to be on this team just for the shoes,” Clinton said. “This is the only team that I’ve ever seen that had these cool shoes.”

Obama, who earlier in the day met with Duke University’s collegiate champion basketball team, agreed the World Cup squad were winners in the fashion stakes.

“Those are some sharp shoes,” he agreed.

The US host Turkey in a warm-up match in Philadelphia today and depart for South Africa tomorrow.

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