Soccer officials from the U.S., Canada and Mexico will detail their joint bid to host the 2026 FIFA World Cup.
USA TODAY Sports
NEW YORK — If the World Cup returns to North America in 2026, it won’t be without significant foreign policy questions under the administration of President Donald Trump.
The respective soccer federations of the United States, Mexico, and Canada announced a joint bid to host the 2026 World Cup in a news conference Monday at the One World Observatory in lower Manhattan.
During his opening comments, U.S. Soccer president Sunil Gulati addressed Mexico’s involvement in the joint bid after a divisive presidential campaign, in which one of Trump’s most polarizing promises was a vow to build a wall at the Mexican-U.S. border.
“We have the full support of the United States government in this project,” Gulati said. “The president of the United States is fully supportive and encouraged us in having this joint bid. He is especially pleased that Mexico is part of this bid, and that’s in the last few days that we have gotten further encouragement on that. We’re not at all concerned about some of the issues that other people may raise. We looked at bidding alone, and again, decided we wanted to bid with our partners in North America, and we have a strong encouragement from President Trump to that very end.”
According to the agreement signed, 60 of the 80 matches would be played in the United States, with Mexico and Canada each hosting 10 apiece.
“Well, I believe like Sunil said, this is not a forum to talk about politics, it’s a forum to talk about soccer,” Decio de María, president of the Federación Mexicana de Fútbol and CONCACAF vice president, said in Spanish. “What I am certain of is that both countries will work tirelessly to build many soccer fields, so that the ball keeps rolling and so that our respective communities can enjoy the benefits that soccer creates.
“Like I said earlier, there will be a (World Cup) champion, but the real winners are soccer and the region to have invited the world to enjoy this celebration. I think that’s how you create a beautiful story.”
In his first days in office, Trump signed several executive orders imposing travel bans from certain countries amid massive protests and orders from judges blocking the moves.
“When Mexico sends its people, they’re not sending their best,” Trump said June 16, 2015 when he announced his presidential bid. “They’re not sending you. They’re not sending you. They’re sending people that have lots of problems, and they’re bringing those problems with us. They’re bringing drugs. They’re bringing crime. They’re rapists. And some, I assume, are good people.”
When asked further about Trump’s election during a question-and-answer session, Gulati reiterated his comments from his opening remarks and deflected commenting further.
“We’re not going to get too much into politics today in discussing American foreign policy or anyone else’s foreign policy, but what I can tell you is we very specifically have addressed this with the president,” Gulati said. “He’s fully supportive of the joint bid, encouraged with the joint bid, and is especially pleased in the fact that Mexico is participating in this joint bid with us. I think those are all positives. Regarding anything else that may have been said during the campaign or after the fact, I’m not going to speak for the president on those. Mr. (White House press secretary Sean) Spicer gets to do that every day.”
The final vote for the World Cup will take place in May 2020, during Trump’s first term, but if the joint bid is chosen, the event would take place under a new president in 2026.
Still, as the three countries ramp up their efforts to appeal to the 211 FIFA member associations that will be deciding 2026, the questions on Trump’s immigration policies likely will persist.
“That us three are standing here as presidents of the federations of the countries that took in our families is a very strong statement,” said Victor Montagliani, president of the Canadian Soccer Association and president of CONCACAF. “And it’s something that I’m very proud of.”
US Soccer chief: Trump ‘fully supportive’ of joint 2026 World Cup bid – USA TODAY