ROME, JULY 6 -- Henry Kissinger, vice chairman of the World Cup '94 Organizing Committee, predicted at a news conference today that the United States would put on "a first-rate show" when the Cup finals are played there in 1994.
The former Secretary of State promised the event would be "something to be proud of" and would contribute to the "growth of the sport we're all interested in."
Werner Fricker, chairman of the organizing committee, gave what he termed "a vote of confidence" to U.S. Coach Bob Gansler, who came under verbal attack during a crowded session in the Olympic Stadium media room.
A foreign journalist derided Gansler as "a college coach." Another journalist said the committee should try to hire Franz Beckenbauer, who is retiring as West Germany's coach following Sunday's World Cup final between his team and Argentina.
Kissinger said he did not know Gansler, but Fricker heartily defended the coach.
"Building from here, you will see that the coaching staff has the ability to take the team to another level of development," Fricker said. "This is a vote of confidence."
Kissinger, who made a statement and took questions for the first half of the conference before departing, lacked specific answers to many foreign journalists' questions about how the United States would handle the 1994 Cup.
Kissinger said it was too early to give specifics but that he was confident corporate sponsors would support the event, saying, "I know a number of CEOs and I'm confident we can get advertisers."
He also said he was hopeful that some satisfactory television arrangement would be worked out. The major U.S. networks have expressed skepticism about the World Cup because of low ratings by TNT, the cable network showing a portion of this year's tournament.
"I'm on the board of CBS," Kissinger said. "They will certainly hear from me for four years. I am not saying they are showing any interest. I am hopeful we will get respectable television coverage.
"You can't judge it by TNT. TNT is a cable network."
Attending his fifth World Cup, Kissinger said he joined the organizing committee as part of a "missionary enterprise to make the sport we all love as popular in the United States as it deserves to be."
Scott LeTellier, president of the organizing committee who has established its office in Washington, said that 25 delegations from the 27 communities seeking to be host sites made inspection tours of Italy to see how these games were put on. He called the approximately 250 people who made up the delegations an "unprecedented" number for a country planning to host the World Cup.