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Obama to attend World Cup soccer game? Not so fast...

By Jimmy Orr / June 22, 2009

Reports that President Obama will attend the World Cup soccer tournament in South Africa next year are premature. Despite the FIFA chief confirming the president's attendance, the White House would not.

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It happens almost every time an invitation is sent to the President of the United States. The event organizer or somebody who knows the event organizer claims that the president accepted the invitation (regardless of confirmation).

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Like the latest supposed acceptance: President Obama attending the World Cup soccer tournament in South Africa next year. Some news agencies are reporting that he's accepted the invite.

The international head soccer guy -- FIFA chief Joseph Blatter -- says Obama's going.

"He accepted," Blatter told a small gathering of reporters in Johannesburg, South Africa. "But you know that heads of state are extremely busy. Hopefully his schedule will allow him to attend."

Don't book your tickets to sit alongside the president just yet. The confirmation doesn't pass the smell test. It's not because Obama dislikes soccer or anything.

He hasn't come out against soccer like this writer who opines:

The fact is that soccer is boring and it simply makes no sense. The goal is bigger than a two-car garage, but yet nothing happens for 86 minutes! Guys are running (and walking) all over this massive field, yet nothing ever happens.

Or this Huffington Post writer who admires the endurance and athleticism of soccer players but thinks as a sport it's a good cure for insomnia:

Soccer puts me to sleep. I have difficulty being enthusiastic about a sport where almost every initiative- advancing the ball down the field, attempting a shot on goal - leads to failure. Almost constant failure.

Or even this writer who believes anything -- really, anything -- is more fun than a soccer match:

Put quite simply, if there were a competition for the "most boring, least action packed sport on Earth," soccer would be a strong contender for the crown. I mean, almost every sport you can imagine has more going on than soccer. Baseball, golf, cricket, WNBA basketball, slow pitch softball, ping pong, freeze tag, foosball, you name it, it's all a thrill-a-minute rocket ride down the side of Mt. Everest compared to footie.

President Obama, although a diehard basketball fan, would likely disagree with the above statements. Politically, it wouldn't be helpful to be so candid. Plus, he's a big supporter of his daughters' soccer outings (see photo above).

Not to mention he's a big advocate for bringing the World Cup to the US in 2018 or 2022. In making a pitch for the tournament to be held in the US, Obama wrote a letter to Blatter last April stating, "Soccer is truly the world’s sport. That is why this bid is about so much more than a game. It is about the United States of America inviting the world to gather all across our great country in celebration of our common hopes and dreams."

The problem with the report is that rarely will see you the president's schedule more than a week to ten days out -- let alone a year. So when Blatter says the White House has "accepted" the invitation, it boils down to semantics. They didn't immediately reject the invitation. They've physically accepted it.

What's the White House say? They would not confirm Obama's attendance.

If history is any judge, if he were to really accept the invite, we wouldn't hear about it until next year -- probably in May.

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