Outgoing U.S. Soccer President Sunil Gulati said that a '26 FIFA World Cup hosted by Canada, Mexico and the U.S. "would financially be 'by far the most successful' in tournament history," according to Ian Harrison of the AP. Gulati said that North America's existing stadium infrastructure and sponsorship potential "could break revenue records." Gulati: "We believe that between the size of the stadiums, which obviously impacts attendance, the level of hospitality available at stadiums, which affects revenue, and the commercial opportunities that are available to FIFA, this will be by far the most successful financial World Cup." Harrison noted the region is the "leading contender" for '26. Morocco is the "only other bidder competing" for '26, and the "deadline for entrants has passed." Qatar in '10 "beat out the U.S." to host the '22 World Cup. Gulati is "encouraged by tighter compliance" with anti-corruption measures -- "both for the bid and for FIFA -- plus a public vote to determine the host." United Bid Committee Exec Dir John Kristick said, "FIFA knows the spotlight is shining very, very bright and this is something that the FIFA president is going to be judged on every step of the way. I feel much better about where we're at" (AP, 12/9). Meanwhile, REUTERS' Steve Keating wrote UBC members "conceded their efforts have not been helped by the sight of disgraced FIFA officials being paraded in front of U.S. judges on corruption charges almost daily and the escalation of tensions in the Arab world" over President Trump's decision last week to move their embassy to Jerusalem. Kristick said, "These issues down the road people are certainly going to be confronted with (them)" (REUTERS, 12/9).
HOPE FOR THE LITTLE GUY: In DC, Steven Goff wrote even though most big U.S. cities are part of the '26 North American effort, bid leaders said that they are "bullish on playing in secondary markets." Gulati said of potential venues, "Is it natural to think that places like Los Angeles and New York have an edge? The answer is, of course. But after two or three or four of those big cities, then it's wide open." Kristick said, "There are always a few surprise cities that are going to break into it. That's one of my biggest goals. ... It might be easy for some to do the first five or six, but then when you get to the next five or six and a few below that, you are going to say, 'What about this one or what about that one?'" Goff noted the "front-runners, featuring large and modern stadiums," include the metro areas of N.Y., L.A., S.F., Chicago, Miami, Atlanta, Dallas and Houston. As the capital city, DC would be a "natural choice," but if FedExField "doesn't meet the needs of the organizing committee and FIFA, Baltimore could rise in status." If Mexico and Canada each have three venues, the U.S. "will probably use about 12" (WASHINGTON POST, 12/10).