New leader of free world is Hammers fan

Hammers offer open invite to President-elect Obama

November 6, 2008
By Chris Murphy

It may not come near the top of his immediate to-do list but don't be surprised if you see the new leader of the free world on the terraces at Upton Park some time in the future.

GettyImagesThe new U.S. President could visit Upton Park again.

That's because West Ham United have offered President-elect Barack Obama an open invitation to the Boleyn ground after his historic election victory this week.

Senator Obama is already a fan after being taken to a match by family members in 2003, but now the east London club have sent him a message of congratulation and an invitation to renew acquaintances with the Hammers on his first visit to Britain.

Of course, with the current financial meltdown and two wars ongoing, taking in West Ham v Wigan may be etched near the bottom of his immediate priority list.

But that hasn't deterred the Hammers, who told PA Sport: "We are delighted that Barack Obama has an association with West Ham and are sending him our congratulations and an invitation to attend a match whenever he is in Britain."

Obama is well known in the States for his liking for "soccer" - his older daughter Malia, 10, is a regular for a girls' team in Chicago.

Obama's half sister Auma lives in England, and it is was she who introduced him to the wonders of West Ham.

A source from his presidential campaign said back in January: "Obama is a big sports nut and loves his soccer. He never really followed it, though, until he was told all about the passion of West Ham fans by some of his English relatives. He's always keen to find out how his adopted club are getting on."

West Ham's American defender Jonathan Spector, who is from Obama's home state Illinois, said he would love to host a visit from the new president.

Spector said: "From a personal perspective it certainly would be something special to welcome him to West Ham."