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ASU alum reflects on World Cup experience

ASU alum Mike Davidson standing next to a sign for the FIFA Women's World Cup.

ASU alum Mike Davidson served as the security coordinator for the FIFA Women’s World Cup. Photo courtesy Mike Davidson

August 14, 2023

Standing on the other side of the world, on the sidelines for the U.S. women’s national soccer team’s World Cup match against the Netherlands in New Zealand, Mike Davidson took a minute to think about home.

Davidson, who served as the security coordinator for the FIFA Women’s World Cup on behalf of the U.S. Department of State, was as far removed from the Arizona desert as any project had ever taken him.

But it still felt right to reflect, given that the career that’s taken him to places such as Baghdad, Cape Verde and Macedonia began in Tempe as a Sun Devil.

A Tucson native who has always been enthralled with foreign languages and cultures, Davidson completed his bachelor’s degree in Spanish, language and literature at Arizona State University in 2000.

It was his coursework at ASU that prepared him for a career on the international stage, especially this summer at the World Cup.

“When I saw this opportunity pop up for the Women’s World Cup, especially with the locations being over in Australia and New Zealand, I said, ‘If there was ever a time in my career to do something like this, this is the time,’” Davidson said. “Usually, you get one shot at something like this. You don’t get to repeat. I feel very blessed and fortunate for the opportunity that I’ve had to be linked to the World Cup.”

Davidson’s day-to-day has varied, but he’s been tasked with liaison, advisory and security support roles to protect the U.S. women’s team, corporate stakeholders and members of the U.S. media attending the Women’s World Cup.

“Obviously, when the U.S. women’s team was in the country, it added a layer of complexity where we gave a lot of attention to the team, to the operation supporting the team, what matches they had, where they were traveling,” Davidson said

The legwork for Davidson and his crew launched in the summer of 2022, when they relocated to Sydney, Australia, for security preparations. A safe, quiet and routine World Cup meant his squad had checked all the boxes.

In security, we hope it’s more about what doesn’t happen than what happens,” he said.

Despite the early exit for the U.S. women’s team, who were eliminated by Sweden in the Round of 16, Davidson remains awestruck by the opportunity.

An opportunity made possible from his time as a Sun Devil.

“At ASU, we have one of the top-notch public universities in the country. You can’t go wrong with picking up a degree at ASU and being prepared to serve anywhere in the world, work anywhere in the world," Davidson said. "I feel very fortunate to have gone to Arizona State.”

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