FIFA soon might inflict the big payback on the United States soccer community.
The unified United States, Canada and Mexico bid to host the 2026 FIFA World Cup is in jeopardy of losing to Morocco, ESPN’s Sam Borden reported Wednesday, citing high-ranking FIFA and continental confederations executives. The joint bid was previously expected to win in a landslide vote among FIFA’s 211 member nations, but the June 13 vote likely will be tight, with a chance of Morocco winning in an upset.
Morocco is expected to have the support of most African, Asian and South American countries, who can clinch the North African nation’s win by voting as blocs.
Central American and Caribbean nations as well as those in Oceania and Europe and some in Asia are expected to back the USA/Canada/Mexico bid.
The 2026 World Cup will be the first 48-team tournament, and the North American bid has obvious advantages over Morocco in terms of infrastructure, stadiums and other technical aspects.
But the U.S. Justice Department’s prosecution of high-level soccer executives reportedly has upset some federations, who might vote against the North American bid as a measure of revenge.
Donald Trump’s actions as U.S. president also might cost the North American World Cup bid support. Borden’s sources claim Trump’s travel ban and disparaging remarks about poorer countries have heightened anti-American sentiment among numerous national federations, with many wondering aloud whether the U.S. remains a place that is welcoming to foreigners.
Few would have predicted two-plus years ago the FIFA scandal and USA’s deteriorating international reputation would cost USA soccer its biggest prize, but these developments show how quickly things can change in soccer, on the field and off it.
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