United bid tri­umphs

The Sun (Malaysia) - - FRONT PAGE -

Mex­ico, Canada wel­come host­ing 2026 World Cup with US de­spite frayed ties

THE lead­ers of Mex­ico and Canada glee­fully cheered win­ning the right to host the 2026 World Cup jointly with the United States, em­pha­siz­ing unity at a time when US Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump has frayed re­la­tions with the two neigh­bours dur­ing his 18 months in of­fice.

Trump, who as part of a tougher US im­mi­gra­tion pol­icy has called for a wall to be built on the coun­try’s south­ern border and paid for by Mex­ico, just days ago per­son­ally in­sulted Cana­dian Prime Min­is­ter Justin Trudeau over a trade dis­pute.

US Soc­cer Fed­er­a­tion Pres­i­dent Car­los Cordeiro sug­gested to re­porters on a con­fer­ence call that bring­ing the three coun­tries to­gether was more of a chal­lenge than any Trump ef­fect.

“If you stop and ap­pre­ci­ate for a sec­ond just the vast num­ber of as­sur­ances, guar­an­tees that we had to get from all three gov­ern­ments work­ing to­gether, that is a mas­sive un­der­tak­ing for one na­tion, let alone three na­tions,” Cordeiro said af­ter the vote by the Congress of world foot­ball gov­ern­ing body FIFA in Moscow.

“So if there were any com­plex­ity here it was three na­tions work­ing to­gether which just raised the dif­fi­culty of get­ting stuff done,” Cordeiro said.

The joint bid re­ceived 134 votes to 65 for Morocco. One FIFA Congress mem­ber voted for “nei­ther bid. ”

Trump, Mex­i­can Pres­i­dent En­rique Pena Ni­eto and Trudeau all took to Twit­ter to post their re­ac­tions to the news.

“The US, to­gether with Mex­ico and Canada, just got the World Cup. Con­grat­u­la­tions – a great deal of hard work!” Trump said.

Pena Ni­eto posted a video to his Twit­ter feed in which he said: “Foot­ball knows that Canada, the United States and Mex­ico are deeply united.”

Trudeau told re­porters in Ot­tawa: “It’s an op­por­tu­nity to bring the world to­gether and high­light how well things work be­tween Canada, Mex­ico and the United States.”

The North Amer­i­cans pledged their tour­na­ment would gen­er­ate an US$11 bil­lion (RM44b) profit for FIFA – greater than any pre­vi­ous World Cup fi­nals – a fi­nan­cial shot in the arm for world foot­ball’s gov­ern­ing body, which has been rocked by a cor­rup­tion and bribery scan­dal en­snar­ing top of­fi­cials.

The “United Bid” pro­jected that its tour­na­ment would gen­er­ate more than US$5 bil­lion (RM20b) in short­term eco­nomic ac­tiv­ity, in­clud­ing the cre­ation of 40,000 jobs and more than US$ 1 bil­lion ( RM4b) i n in­cre­men­tal worker earn­ings.

More than 5.8 mil­lion tick­ets are ex­pected to be sold, gen­er­at­ing over US$2 bil­lion (RM8b) in tick­et­ing rev­enue, ac­cord­ing to the win­ning bid’s pro­jec­tions.

Morocco, which has now failed in five bids to host the FIFA World Cup, said their tour­na­ment would make US$5 bil­lion (RM20b).

The North African coun­try would have needed to in­vest bil­lions of dol­lars to build new sta­di­ums while the United States, Mex­ico and Canada will mostly use ex­ist­ing venues

Al­though it will be the first World Cup to be hosted by three coun­tries, most matches will be played in the United States.

As part of the joint bid, Trump pledged that those trav­el­ling to the United States for the tour­na­ment would not be subject to strin­gent visa re­stric­tions.

Even if Trump were to be elected for a sec­ond four-year term in 2020 he would not be in of­fice when the World Cup kicks off in 2026.

Un­der FIFA’s new sys­tem for choos­ing the host, all el­i­gi­ble na­tional foot­ball fed­er­a­tions that at­tend the Congress were given a vote.

The last time FIFA voted on World Cup host­ing rights was in 2010, the de­ci­sion rested with the for­mer ex­ec­u­tive com­mit­tee which chose Rus­sia to host the 2018 fi­nals and Qatar for 2022.

Sev­eral mem­bers of t hat com­mit­tee were later banned for life from the sport af­ter they were caught up in the cor­rup­tion scan­dal that en­gulfed FIFA in 2015.

The three hosts were all ex­pected to qual­ify au­to­mat­i­cally for the tour­na­ment as has been the tra­di­tion for host na­tions.

The US pre­vi­ously hosted the World Cup in 1994 and Mex­ico staged it in 1970 and 1986. Canada has never staged a men’s World Cup, but hosted the women’s tour­na­ment in 2015.

Foot­ball is Mex­ico’s na­tional sport, but is still con­sid­ered a niche sport in the United States and Canada. Host­ing the 2026 World Cup will be used as an in­cen­tive to in­volve more peo­ple in the game, US foot­ball’s Cordeiro told re­porters.

“We be­lieve this event will be­come a light­ning rod ... (and) trans­for­ma­tional for the sport as kids who are now 8-, 10-, 12-years-old can all dream of po­ten­tially play­ing for a na­tional team,” Cordeiro said.

The na­tional team failed to qual­ify for the Rus­sia tour­na­ment.

The 2026 fi­nals will be the first ex­panded tour­na­ment fea­tur­ing 48 teams, up from the cur­rent 32-team event.

Of the 80 games, 60 will be played in the United States with 10 each in Canada and Mex­ico.

The f inal will be played at MetLife Sta­dium in New Jer­sey, home to the Na­tional Foot­ball League’s New York Gi­ants and New York Jets.

Ten of the even­tual 16 cho­sen venues for the tour­na­ment will be in the United States with Mex­ico and Canada hav­ing three venues each. - Reuters

An em­ployee holds up a scarf with the hash­tag United 2026 at Soc­cer Canada Head­quar­ters in Ot­tawa, On­tario. –

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