(WFI) Executives from the joint USA-Canada-Mexico bid to stage the 2026 FIFA World Cup have praised the “warm” welcome they received in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, by members of the Asian Football Confederation.
U.S. Soccer’s Carlos Cordeiro, Canada’s Soccer Association president Steve Reed and Mexican Football Federation chief Decio de Maria recently traveled to the Malaysian capital in search of votes before the June 13 decision by FIFA on what bid organizes the most prestigious tournament in football, which will expand to 48 teams for the 2026 finals.
Morocco is also trying to stage the event.
The joint North American bid to host the 2026 FIFA World Cup includes 23 cities. One of them is Atlanta, home to the Mercedes-Benz Stadium which opened last year and is considered one of the most modern sports buildings in the world.
Should the North American United bid be selected to organize the 2026 World Cup, FIFA will select up to 16 Host Cities from the proposed slate of 23.
Canada, Mexico, and the United States require no new stadium construction to stage the tournament.
“Canada, Mexico, and the United States have joined together to deliver a United Bid that offers FIFA and its member associations the power of unity, the promise of certainty, and the potential of extraordinary opportunity,” said John Kristick, Executive Director of the United bid.
“We are confident that the combination of our 23 existing world-class stadiums, 150 existing elite training facilities, and our modern and interconnected transportation network can help FIFA to achieve new records for attendance and revenue which will allow the entire global football community to improve and grow,” added Kristick.
In the last few weeks though three major North American cities have pulled out of hosting World Cup games: Chicago, Vancouver and Minneapolis have announced they will not be hosting any World Cup matches. All of them have argued that FIFA has asked from potential host cities unreasonable financial guarantees without promising a huge return on investment.
The absence of these three cities from the North American World Cup Bid is significant given their recent history in hosting major sporting events.
Chicago is not only the third largest city in the U.S., but also houses the country’s national soccer federation. During the 1994 FIFA World Cup, Chicago hosted the opening game between Germany and Bolivia.
The “Windy City” mayor’s office said in a statement “FIFA could not provide a basic level of certainty on some major unknowns that put our city and taxpayers at risk. The uncertainty for taxpayers coupled with FIFA’s inflexibility and unwillingness to negotiate, were clear indications that further pursuit of the bid wasn’t in Chicago’s best interests.”
Minneapolis recently hosted with great success the biggest sporting event in the U.S., the Super Bowl. On their decision to pull out of the World Cup bid, officials in Minneapolis underlined FIFA’s allegedly lack of flexibility.
“After much discussion and several attempts to work within the parameters prescribed by FIFA, we chose not to continue forward in the bid process,” a statement read. “Unfortunately, the inability to negotiate the terms of the various bid agreements did not provide our partners, and our community, with sufficient protections from future liability and unforeseen changes in commitments.
“Specifically, we were requesting flexibility on the financial liability caps and/or stronger estimates on anticipated costs associated with the events, including the possibility of hosting six games and a Fan Fest that could last for up to one month.”
Vancouver hosted among others the final game of the last Fifa Women’s World Cup between the U.S and Japan.
However, much like Chicago and Minneapolis, Vancouver’s bid committee has also cited the financial risk factor it encountered in moving forward with the World Cup hosting bid.
“While we support the prospect of hosting the World Cup, we cannot agree to terms that would put British Columbians at risk of shouldering potentially huge and unpredictable costs,” Lisa Beare, BC’s Minister of Tourism, Arts and Culture, said in a statement.
Earlier this week, B.C. Premier John Horgan told reporters that while he would like to see the World Cup come to Vancouver, he was not about to write “a blank check ” to FIFA.
The United Bid’s final candidate host cities are:
Canada: Edmonton, Montréal, Toronto
Mexico: Guadalajara, Mexico City, Monterrey
United States: Atlanta, Baltimore, Boston, Cincinnati, Dallas, Denver, Houston, Kansas City, Los Angeles, Miami, Nashville, New York/New Jersey, Orlando, Philadelphia, San Francisco Bay Area, Seattle, Washington DC.
By INSIDER Javier Monne
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