Int'l Champions Cup Organizer Says "Crazy Action" By Trump Could Derail U.S. WC Bid
Relevent Sports Chair Charlie Stillitano, whose group runs the Int'l Champions Cup, "believes only a 'crazy action'" by President Trump's administration could prevent the U.S.-led joint bid with Canada and Mexico from "winning the right to stage" the '26 World Cup, according to PA SPORT. Stillitano said that the U.S. bid will be the "firm favorite" to be awarded the World Cup next June, though he "still sees governmental uncertainty as a potential weakness." Stillitano: "The only thing that could possibly derail (the bid) is some crazy action on the part of our government, but I can't even imagine that. It's ours to lose. I can't imagine we won't have the World Cup." Stillitano said that U.S. Soccer President Sunil Gulati believes the U.S. hosting the World Cup could "bring in a lot of money." Stillitano: "I saw Sunil Gulati and he was almost gleeful in talking about this was going to be far the most profitable World Cup." He added, "It's almost a given that it's going to be in the U.S. I'd be shocked if they lost" (PA SPORT, 9/4).
FUEL TO THE FIRE? USA TODAY's Martin Rogers notes USMNT coach Bruce Arena believes the "controversial rhetoric of President Trump has given his team's opponents extra incentive during the current World Cup qualifying campaign." When asked how the political climate impacted soccer, Arena said, "Do you need me to tell you that? Our immigration policies are impacting people in Central America, right? There is probably a little bit of anger over that and then you get your national (team) with a chance to play (against) the U.S. I'm sure it becomes very meaningful" (USA TODAY, 9/5). Arena said that even in the current political climate, he has "not talked politics with his players, though he expects there to be near consensus on some issues." Arena: "Everyone is pretty supportive of free speech and not being restrictive of people coming to this country. We'd be almost unanimous on that. But I'm not around these guys all the time and listening to them talk politics." He added, "I don't think politics influences our national team program at all" (ESPNFC.com, 9/5).