United 2026 Ignores 'Geopolitics'

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(WFI) The leaders of the United 2026 World Cup bid say they expect FIFA members to vote on “merits,” not special interests, for the next World Cup.
(United 2026)

The three chairmen of the United 2026 bid - U.S. Soccer President Carlos Cordeiro, Canada Soccer Federation President Steve Reed, and Mexican Football Federation President Decio de Maria - held a conference call with reporters while on a trip to Malaysia to pitch the Asian Football Confederation. On the call the trio discussed the “unity, certainty, and opportunity” the bid offered with each president taking a different talking point.

Over the weekend both the United 2026 and the Morocco 2026 bids presented their full, finalized plans to FIFA in the form of bid books. Now, FIFA will send investigators to inspect each of the bids. If inspectors deem each bid acceptable, the 207 eligible member nations will vote for the host of the 2026 World Cup at the FIFA Congress ahead of the Russia 2018 World Cup in Moscow.

For the Moroccans the bid book presented the first opportunity to share with the public the fully fleshed out plan. The bid calls for nearly $16 billion in public investment to football stadiums and transport links, but is offset with favorable television time zones to Europe and its compact plan.

Cordeiro says both bid team leaders have had grueling travel schedules and “are friends” with each other. To secure the 2026 World Cup one of the bids must get the votes of a plurality of all eligible FIFA members. FIFA will publish each member association’s vote publicly after the congress.

Previously, the FIFA Council awarded the World Cup. The task has become “obviously a lot more complex” with so many more votes being cast, Cordeiro said. However, the bid believes the task at hand is not complex or chaotic, and each of the three presidents will traverse the globe in “a methodic way”.

Before pitching the AFC on the United bid, leaders had discussed the bid with West Asian football federations in Jordan, and the week before the leaders went to Bogota to pitch South American federation leaders on the sidelines of the FIFA Council meeting.

By allowing every member association to vote, FIFA has opened the process to a wide range of lobbying needed to secure the World Cup. Media reports have seized on this since the process began, speculating that international attitudes towards the United States may sway voters.

Confederation of African Football President Ahmad Ahmad has publicly stated his support for the Moroccan bid, even though FIFA rules prevent the confederation from backing a candidate. Such proclamations show the up-in-the-air nature of the campaign, given Africa’s 54 votes in the election.

“Why shouldn’t every member association have a say?” Cordeiro asked in response to questions about whether the expanded voting allowed for more opportunities for corrupting the practice.

Cordeiro also downplayed the possibility of an anti-U.S. sentiment during the current campaign coming up during conversations.

“We’re focused on our bid and what we have to offer, we believe the FIFA community will make their decisions based on the merits of our bid,” Cordeiro said. “This is not geopolitics this is football...we have had no backlash to our bid.”

The United 2026 bid presented 23 cities to FIFA as suitable hosts for matches in the World Cup. Three of the cities are in Canada, three are in Mexico, and the remaining 17 are in the United States. The bid leaders say that as of now there is no discussion to change the current arrangement for hosting. Under the proposed plan 60 of the 80 games would be contested in the U.S., with Canada and Mexico hosting 10 matches. All games from the quarterfinals on would be in the U.S.

“One of the reasons we came together in a united bid was the strength of that and the strength of cities in the three countries,” Reed said. “We’re very comfortable with how we structured this.”

By INSIDER Aaron Bauer

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