On Monday, reporters convened on top of the Freedom Tower in New York City to listen to an announcement by Sunil Gulati, the president of the U.S. Soccer federation; Victor Montagliani, president of the Canadian Soccer Association; and Decio De Maria, president of the Mexico federation.
The North American powerhouse trio was there to announce its joint bid to co-host the 2026 World Cup.
This raised some eyebrows, because the United States currently has a President who is trying to build a wall along the Mexican border, and launched his successful campaign by calling Mexicans rapist and drug dealers.
Gulati came to Freedom Tower prepared to stomp out all doubts, though.
“We have the full support of the United States government in this project,” Gulati said, as reported by Bryan Armen Graham of The Guardian.
Gulati, worried that might not be specific enough, continued.
“The president of the United States is fully supportive and encouraged us to have this joint bid,” he stressed.
Sure, but could it be possible that Donald Trump merely missed the part of this bid that included Mexico? (After all, he doesn’t read good). Gulati figured you might ask, so without prompting, he clarified even further.
“[The president] is especially pleased that Mexico is part of this bid. And that’s in the last few days we’ve gotten further encouragement on that.”
There are plenty of other reasons some might reasonably remain skeptical about the U.S. bidding—alone or jointly—to host an international sporting competition right now like, say, the fact that President Trump is also still pushing for some sort of a Muslim ban, and many Muslim-majority countries are very good at soccer.
To be clear why USA not bidding alone to host WC26: FIFA wants to know 100% that fans/players of, say, Iran (regular WC team) will be let in
— Grant Wahl (@GrantWahl) April 9, 2017
Now understand that US will have to make guarantees to FIFA on countries being allowed into US for WC26 whether a joint bid or solo bid.
— Grant Wahl (@GrantWahl) April 10, 2017
But it will all be fine, Gulati said.
“We’re not at all concerned about some of the issues that other people may raise,” he said. “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.”
So there you have it. Trump definitely loves both soccer and Mexico.
He probably also loves that, under this proposal, it is likely that the United States would host 60 of the 80 World Cup games, including all of the games from the quarterfinals on, while Mexico and Canada will host only 10 each.
There hasn’t been a men’s World Cup in the CONCACAF region (North America, Central American, and the Caribbean) since 1994, when the U.S. hosted alone. The 2018 World Cup is scheduled to be in Russia, while the 2022 World Cup is slated for Qatar, human rights violations be damned.
The New York Times reports that this bid is “widely expected to succeed.”