[Public Papers of the Presidents of the United States: William J. Clinton (1998, Book I)]
[April 6, 1998]
[Pages 508-509]
[From the U.S. Government Publishing Office www.gpo.gov]

Remarks to the Major League Soccer Champion D.C. United and an Exchange 
With Reporters
April 6, 1998

    The President. Thank you very much. Welcome to the Rose Garden on 
this beautiful spring afternoon, Congresswoman Norton, Mrs. Barry, Councilman 
    In addition to being a magnificent spring day, this is also National 
Student Athlete Day. So I want to give a special welcome to those who 
have joined us to celebrate the achievements of students across the 
country. I want to thank Richard Lapchick, 
the director of the Center for the Study of Sport in Society at 
Northeastern University, and Ron Stratten 
of the NCAA for your work to promote academics, athletics, and community 
service among our Nation's youth.
    I also want to welcome Kevin Payne, the 
president and general manager of D.C. United, and Coach Bruce 
Arena and the members and the staff of this very 
talented team. You've all worked hard to make D.C. United the most 
successful team in Major League Soccer history, winners of the 1996 and 
1997 MLS Cups. Each year, despite torrential rains during the 
championship games, you've shown us you are strongly united. And with a 
great record this season,

[[Page 509]]

you're well on your way to a ``threepeat,'' something the law prevents 
me from trying to equal. [Laughter]
    D.C. United and Major League Soccer are making soccer more and more 
popular in the United States, especially among young people. Last year a 
record 3.2 million children across our Nation played youth soccer, more 
than any other sport. My daughter taught me all I know about soccer. It 
was a great experience for me to watch her grow up in her soccer league, 
and I know it's making a difference in the lives of millions of children 
all across this country.
    D.C. United is linking America to the world and the love of soccer 
in bringing Americans of all backgrounds together and, unless my ears 
have given out on me entirely, bringing some people beyond America 
together on this team. Last year, despite those rains, over 57,000 fans 
went to RFK Stadium to watch you win the championship. The D.C. United 
fans come from nearly every country on Earth. Their diversity and spirit 
add to the life of this, our Capital City, as I'm sure the 
representatives here would attest. Kevin Payne 
says that the fans are the 12th man in your winning efforts.
    We can also all be proud of how united you are with the community of 
Washington, DC. Your partnership with DC Scores supports after school 
reading and writing programs, combined with the joys of playing soccer. 
And I'd like to give you a special thanks for that.
    I also want to acknowledge the winners of that program's essays 
contest who are here with us today, and they're standing over here: Anoa 
Hunter and Anton Kent-Trout, who wrote outstanding essays on ``What United Means to 
Me.'' I just read their essays. I wish all of you could read them. I 
think it's an inspiring and important question for all of us to think 
    Congratulations to all of you, and now I'd like to turn it over to 
D.C. United's president, Kevin Payne.

[At this point, Mr. Payne and Coach Arena made brief remarks, and the President was presented 
with an official team jersey advertising Major League Soccer's primary 
sponsor, Mastercard.]

    The President. I'll have to stay current on my Mastercard if I wear 
this. [Laughter] I like it. Thank you.
    Thank you very much. Let me, before we close and I walk over here 
and we take a formal picture with the team, again thank the First Lady 
of Washington, DC, and Congresswoman 
Eleanor Holmes Norton, and all the DC 
city council members. I see at least three that I overlooked the first 
time. Would all the members of the DC city council who are here stand 
up? I think they're all here. We have a quorum in case any of you have a 
particular problem you'd like solved. [Laughter]
    And I'd also like to ask the student athletes and the coaches that I 
just honored in the Oval Office who have come here from around the 
country, who have done outstanding things. Many of them have overcome 
considerable personal obstacles to be outstanding athletes, outstanding 
students, and servants in their communities. I'd like to ask them to all 
stand please. Thank you very much.
    We're going to take a quick picture, and then we'll be adjourned. 
You can all stand up. We'll visit a little, have a little fun. Come on.

[At this point, the President posed for photographs with the team.]

Middle East Peace Process

    Q. Mr. President, is another Middle East peace summit here a 
possibility? Chairman Arafat, Prime Minister Netanyahu left open that 
possibility. Would you consider it?
    The President. We're working on it.

Note: The President spoke at 5:37 p.m. in the Rose Garden at the White 
House. In his remarks, he referred to Cora Masters Barry, wife of Mayor 
Marion Barry of Washington, DC; Ward 2 Councilmember Jack Evans, 
District of Columbia council; and Ronald J. Stratten, group executive 
director for education services, NCAA. A reporter referred to Chairman 
Yasser Arafat of the Palestinian Authority; and Prime Minister Binyamin 
Netanyahu of Israel. A portion of these remarks could not be verified 
because the tape was incomplete.