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Wednesday, 14 November 2018

US Takes Best Shot at Landing FIFA World Cup with Joint Bid

(New York Post) - The United States has officially announced its bid to co-host the 2026 World Cup

, partnering with Canada and Mexico in a joint effort to bring the planet’s largest sporting event to North America for the first time since it was held in the U.S. in 1994.
Despite the plan being revealed Monday afternoon during a press conference on the 102nd floor of the Freedom Tower, the three nations won’t learn if their combined bid is successful until May 2020, when FIFA is expected to name the hosts of the massive tournament, which will expand from 32 teams to 48 in 2026.
The World Cup has never been hosted by three countries — Japan and South Korea shared the honors in 2002 — but most of the tournament would take place in the U.S., where 60 of the 80 games are scheduled to be played, with Canada and Mexico splitting the other 20 games evenly. Starting with the quarterfinal round, all games would be held in the U.S., according to Sunil Gulati, the U.S. Soccer Federation president, though no venues have been chosen yet.
Gulati said the U.S. looked into making a solo bid — similar efforts to land the 2018 and 2022 World Cups failed — but he said he believed the proposal had a greater chance to be selected in coordination with Canada and Mexico. According to Sports Illustrated, the U.S. joined with its neighbors due to FIFA’s concerns that President Trump’s immigration restrictions could create problems for traveling players and fans.
Speaking with Trump, Gulati said the president was “especially pleased” to be partnering with Mexico, which Trump has repeatedly insisted must pay to build a wall along the shared border. Because of term limits, Trump could not hold the office in 2026.
“The president of the United States is fully supportive and encouraged us to have this joint bid,” Gulati said. “He is especially pleased that Mexico is part of this bid. In the last few days we’ve gotten further encouragement on that.
So we’re not at all concerned about some of the issues that other people may raise. We looked at bidding alone and decided in the end we wanted to bid with our partners in North America, and we have a strong encouragement from President Trump to that very end.”
The lone World Cup played in the U.S. was wildly successful — a 24-team event, registering, by far, the largest average attendance in tournament history (68,991), and helping create Major League Soccer — while Mexico has hosted the tournament on two occasions (1970, 1986), and Canada held the most recent Women’s World Cup (2015).
Problems have plagued the World Cup since the 2010 selection of the two upcoming sites — Russia (2018) and Qatar (2022), making Europe and Asia ineligible to host in 2026 — prompting investigations of bribery, and returning the voting to the 211 member nations.
The 2014 World Cup was an economic disaster for Brazil, which spent billions to build stadiums specifically for the tournament that are now already unused and in disrepair.
Gulati believes the infrastructure in North America, including multiple newly constructed NFL stadiums, is key to the bid being selected.
“Given what’s happened in some of the last World Cups and Olympics, building a stadium without a long-term use isn’t an appealing option,” Gulati said. “We think that’s an advantage.”