(WFI) FIFA’s Bid Evaluation Task Force is in Atlanta on the second leg of its visit to four cities included in the joint candidacy made up of Canada, Mexico, and the United States to host the 2026 World Cup.
The body’s five representatives arrived in Atlanta after its tour around Mexico City where they were greeted, among others, by the 2026 United Bid Co-Chairs and federation Presidents Decio de Maria (Mexico), Carlos Cordeiro (United States), and Steven Reed (Canada).
While in the Mexican capital, the Task Force visited “El Zócalo,” the city’s most famous square and a proposed FIFA Fan Fest site for 2026. FIFA’s team also inspected one of the United Bid’s proposed team base camps known as “Centro de Alto Rendimiento.”
The visit ended at Estadio Azteca, the largest stadium in Mexico and the official home of the Mexican National Team. Estadio Azteca is one of only two venues in the world to have hosted two FIFA World Cup Finals (1970 and 1986). It is also one of the venues selected to host one of the three opening matches in the 2026 World Cup should the United candidacy be selected to organize the event.
Mexico City, the largest metropolitan area of the Western Hemisphere and the biggest Spanish-speaking city in the world, is included as one of the United Bid’s 23 candidate host cities.
Mexico, Canada and the United States also have a long and successful history in hosting 13 various FIFA World Cups, five of which have set attendance records. Presently the North American bid is competing with Morocco for the right to host the 2026 event.
A few weeks ago, the football body had asked both candidates to present independent reports on human rights in their territories.
The United bid document, commissioned by Ergon, pointed out the likelihood of worker abuses is significantly reduced in the U.S., Canada and Mexico because no stadiums or significant additional infrastructure must be built.
Morocco, by contrast, plans $15.8 billion in construction projects to prepare the country for what would be its first World Cup, including $3 billion to build or renovate every stadium or training facility.
But Ergon identified key risks associated with the Mexican cities where 10 of the 80 World Cup games would be played.
“The majority of women in Mexico City have experienced some form of sexual violence (including verbal harassment and unwanted touching) in their daily commute,” Ergon wrote, citing the United Nations, “which raises issues in relation to the safety of women workers, fans and spectators when they commute to, or are inside competition buildings and spaces.”
The report also identifies a “key risk relates to discriminatory incidents,” pinpointing gay slurs by Mexican fans at matches, including one chant that translates as “male prostitute.”
Ergon is also concerned with freedom of the press in Mexico. “Violations of the right to freedom of expression have been flagged over the past years as one of Mexico’s most pressing problems by national and international entities,” Ergon wrote. “This risk may only be exaggerated in the context of a FIFA World Cup.”
After its tour of Mexico City and Atlanta, the FIFA Task Force will visit Toronto and the New York metropolitan area, where the bid committee has proposed the 2026 final be held at East Rutherford, New Jersey
Next week the FIFA delegation will travel to Morocco to assess its bid before delivering assessments and scores which could disqualify a contender before the June 13 vote when the FIFA congress has to announce the 2026 World Cup host in Moscow.
Homepage photo: Atlanta United FC
By INSIDER Javier Monne
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