Soccer bosses in the United States, Mexico and Canada plan to “rise above” the policies and rhetoric of President Donald Trump and launch a joint bid to host the 2026 World Cup. The president of the confederation in charge of soccer in North America, Central America and the Caribbean has said that a joint bid is expected to be finalized this year for the quadrennial event.
“Canada, the U.S. and Mexico are aiming for a joint bid, the idea has been around for a while, discussions are continuing and it is a very exciting proposition if it comes to fruition,” Victor Montagliani told The Guardian. “We have had nothing but positive remarks about it and it is a very strong sign of what football can do to bring countries together.”
There had been concern that Trump’s policies could hurt the United States’ ambitions to host its second World Cup, following its first successful hosting in 1994, either on its own or jointly with its neighbors to the north and south. Trump has begun to move forward on his pledge to build a wall along the entire U.S.-Mexico border, causing diplomatic tensions between the two countries.
Asked whether in his comments he was referring specifically to the planned wall, Montagliani said football had a responsibility to “rise above” all manner of unpopular political regimes.
“It behoves football and leaders of football to deal with it and rise above it,” he said.
Trump has also signed an executive order barring travelers from six Muslim-majority nations from entering the U.S. While the order has been stalled in federal courts—and Trump will be out of office by the time the 2026 World Cup comes around—the head of world soccer’s governing body said last month that the policy could derail a U.S. bid.
“Any team, including the supporters and officials of that team, who qualify for a World Cup need to have access to the country, otherwise there is no World Cup,” FIFA President Gianni Infantino told reporters.
The 2026 World Cup is set to be the first with an expanded 48-team, 80-game format. And, although the U.S., Mexico and Canada each would have the infrastructure to host the tournament individually, Montagliani said a joint bid would be “a fit” for the new format.
All bids will need to be submitted by the end of 2018, with a decision set to be made on the host or hosts in May 2020.
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