NEW YORK (July 7, 2009) – Robert Kraft, a founding investor of Major League Soccer (MLS), today accepted an invitation to join the Board of Directors for the USA Bid Committee in its efforts to bring the FIFA World Cup to the United States in 2018 or 2022.
Founder, Chairman and CEO of The Kraft Group, Kraft has established himself as one of the most successful owners in professional sports with the New England Patriots of the National Football League (NFL) and the New England Revolution of MLS. Under his ownership, the Patriots have won five conference titles and three Super Bowl championships while the Revolution is a four-time runner-up for MLS Cup, the 2007 Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup champion and the 2008 SuperLiga champion.
«Robert Kraft has been a true champion for soccer in the United States and the USA Bid Committee is extremely pleased to welcome him to our Board of Directors,» said Sunil Gulati, the Chairman of the USA Bid Committee and President of U.S. Soccer. «He paved the way for World Cup soccer to come to New England in 1994 and his leadership of the Revolution and within MLS has been instrumental in elevating the profile of the sport in this country.»
Kraft began his association with soccer in the United States in the early 1990s when he led the successful bid for Foxboro Stadium to serve as one of the nine host venues for the 1994 FIFA World Cup. Following the success of the 1994 World Cup, the Kraft family became the founding investor/operator of the Revolution on June 6, 1995, joining MLS for its inaugural season in 1996. Kraft later privately financed the construction of Gillette Stadium, the $325 million state-of-the-art home for the Patriots and Revolution that opened in 2002.
«Being involved in the 1994 World Cup was one the most thrilling experiences of my professional career and really opened my eyes to the potential for the growth of the sport in this country,» said Kraft. «Soccer continues to become more engrained in the culture of the American sports fan and I’m honored to be a part of the movement to bring the World Cup back to the United States.»
Kraft has helped to make the U.S. Men’s and Women’s National Teams a fixture in Foxborough, Mass., as a combined total of 28 international matches involving U.S. teams have been played there since 1990. Foxborough has hosted the MLS Cup Final three times, including the 2002 final between the Revolution and the Los Angeles Galaxy played in front of the largest crowd in MLS Cup history (61,316). Kraft’s contributions to MLS also include a two-season tenure as investor/operator of the San Jose Earthquakes from 1999-2000.
Beginning his relationship with the New England Patriots in 1971 when he became a season ticket holder, Kraft maintained that status for 23 years until he bought the team in 1994. Kraft’s purchase of the Patriots for $172 million was an eleventh-hour deal that kept the team from moving to St. Louis and ushered in an era of dominance in which the Patriots have won more games and league championships than any other team in the NFL during that time.
Kraft is a native of Brookline, Mass., who went on to attend Columbia University on an academic scholarship. After graduation, he received a fellowship to attend Harvard Business School, earning a master’s degree in business administration.
The United States, Australia, England, Indonesia, Japan, Mexico and Russia have formally declared their desire to host the FIFA World Cup™ in 2018 or 2022. Netherlands-Belgium and Portugal-Spain have each submitted joint bids for the 2018 and 2022 tournaments, while Qatar and South Korea have applied as candidates to play host only to the tournament in 2022.