With the North American bid to host the 2026 World Cup firmly in FIFA’s hands, the bids were due last Friday, the Presidents of the U.S Soccer, the Mexico Football Federation, and Canada Soccer spoke to the media via conference call Monday from Kuala Lumpur.
The three Presidents, Carlos Cordeiro, U.S., Decio De Maria, Mexico, and Steven Reed, Canada, traveled to the Malaysian capital in an effort to persuade the members of the Asian Football Confederation to cast its lot with what is known as the United Bid over that of its only competitor, Morocco.
As described by the trio of Presidents, the United Bid features three pillars, Unity, Certainty, and Opportunity. In the groups opening remarks Reed discussed unity, DeMaria tackled certainty, and Cordeiro finishing up by describing the opportunity to host the World Cup in North America in 2016 as a chance to “throw the biggest party the world has ever seen.”
Cordeiro also stated that the United Bid members, “see the opportunity for record revenues.” “We anticipate sold out stadiums for every match,” the U.S. Soccer President continued, with “an expected 9.8 tickets sold with ticketing revenues of more than $2.1 billion,” which Cordeiro called a new record.
It was all very positive but with Sports Illustrated’s recent article suggesting that the United Bid was in real jeopardy of losing out to Morocco along with disgraced former FIFA President Sepp Blatter’s endorsement of the Moroccan bid- remember, this is FIFA- the first question went to Cordeiro and it concerned the chance that anti-American feelings could cost the group the World Cup.
Cordeiro wasn’t buying it, saying “we believe strongly that this decision will be made on its merits,” expressing confidence that group’s submission, “on its merits will be seen to be a superlative bid.”
“This is not geopolitics, we’re talking about football,” Cordeiro replied when asked if U.S. decisions made by the Trump administration had sparked a “backlash.” “We’ve had no backlash.”
The Presidential Triad recently took the lead of the United Bid when the presidents were named as co-chairs of the bid committee, moving longtime U.S. Soccer President Sunil Gulati aside in the effort to bring the World Cup back to the continent for the first time since U.S. 1994.
Was that move made to push the “united” nature of the bid to the forefront in hopes of quelling any perception that the U.S. was the dominant partner with Gulati at its head?
Noting that he had just been elected as President of the U.S. federation in February, Cordeiro said: “it was natural that you would expect me, as the new president of the U.S. Soccer Federation, to take responsibility for our share of the bid and that is why I stepped up to the plate.” Cordeiro also pointed out that although the three were together in Kuala Lumpur they would more often be traveling separately as they chased down support. “Divide and conquer, right?” Cordeiro asked. “Isn’t that the saying.”
The U.S. Soccer President was backed by his co-Chairmen with De Maria saying colorfully, “we are nothing more than three guys representing three institutions, reaching for an objective,” while Canada’s Reed, pointed out that the three, “don’t really dwell on titles.” “We are three co-chairs at the present but we’ve always been together in terms of trying to achieve this common agenda.”
Unity, certainty, and opportunity. Will it be enough? We must wait until June 13, one day before the World Cup gets underway. In the meantime, the three co-chairmen will be seeing the world.