Falling Popularity Of U.S. On Worldwide Scale Could Hurt '26 North American WC Bid
There is "growing concern in some U.S. circles" that North America's bid to host the '26 FIFA World Cup is "not as certain as once thought," according to Steven Goff of the WASHINGTON POST. Sources said that those involved with the U.S., Canada and Mexico joint bid are "worried many FIFA member countries -- and, by extension, continental voting blocs -- are leaning toward Morocco." FIFA will vote June 13 in Moscow. The questions "stem from a precipitous decline in U.S. popularity around the world and, to a smaller extent, the fact that the American judicial system took the lead in prosecuting FIFA scandals." While the exposure of misconduct has "helped cleanse the sport’s tarnished international governing body, some in world soccer apparently aren’t happy with the U.S. government’s aggressive role." The inclusion of Mexico and Canada "should broaden the bid’s appeal." Morocco "presumably would receive backing from most, if not all, of the other 53 African countries." The North American bid "would likely claim 32 from CONCACAF and, it hopes, 10 from South America." That leaves Europe (55), Asia (46) and Oceania (11) "up for grabs." One "possible, but unlikely, twist: If the 37-member FIFA Council (which replaced the executive committee) doesn’t believe either bid is adequate, the process would reopen to countries in all continents." Goff notes with lobbying efforts accelerating, outgoing U.S. Soccer President Sunil Gulati was "in the United Arab Emirates this past week for the FIFA Club World Cup" (WASHINGTON POST, 12/18).