Hatred of Trump jeopardizes U.S. World Cup bid

There are two bidders to hold the 2026 World Cup. One is a small country, Morocco. The other is most of a large continent, North America, in the form of a joint bid by the U.S., Canada, and Mexico.

This should be no contest. The joint North American bidders have enormous advantages over Morocco in terms of population, stadium size, tourism infrastructure, enthusiasm for the sport (taking Mexico into account), and just about everything else one can think of.

Yet, Sunil Gulati, outgoing US Soccer Federation president, warned yesterday that the joint bid is in trouble because, in effect, the world hates President Trump (who won’t be president in 2026) and American policies. Gulati pointed to the U.S. withdrawal from the Paris climate deal and the decision to move the U.S. embassy in Israel to Jerusalem. And, of course, there is the president’s alleged description of various nations as “s***holes.”

I have also read that FIFA, the corrupt body that puts on the World Cup, is angry with the U.S. for prosecuting the crooks who used to run the organization. That FIFA isn’t thankful to the U.S. for our efforts to cleanse it suggests that crooks still hold influential positions in that body.

I have conflicting views about the U.S. losing out on the World Cup. Attending five matches when the U.S. hosted the event in 1994 was a peak sports viewing experience for me. It helped convert a casual fan into a devotee.

Similarly, the 1994 World Cup was a turning point for soccer in the U.S. It led to the creation of a professional league that, although thoroughly mediocre, brings pleasure to many Americans (especially in Seattle for some reason). It led to the surge in fandom that now, according to one poll, has almost as many Americans listing soccer as their favorite sport as listing baseball.

The 1994 World Cup was also a great boon for FIFA, and not just because of the boost it gave soccer in the world’s wealthiest country. The ’94 Cup smashed attendance records and turned an enormous profit for FIFA.

By 2026, I may not be in any condition to attend World Cup matches. But if we co-host the competition, a new generation of American soccer fans will enjoy that pleasure. The event would be even more joyous for Mexico, a soccer-crazed country that hasn’t hosted since 1986 when it was still a second-tier soccer power.

Yet, I’m inclined to hope that the joint bid fails and Morocco gets the Cup. Why? Because FIFA, a corrupt body dominated by anti-American nations, doesn’t deserve to host its signature event in our country.

It doesn’t deserve to set up shop in our great cities, to play it matches in our magnificent sports palaces, or to take advantage of our infrastructure which, whatever its shortcomings, surely beats that of Morocco and much of the rest of the world.

Let’s see how well Morocco accommodates 80 matches in the first World Cup with a field of 48 teams (currently, the field in 32 and the 50 percent increase will certainly water down the event). Let’s see whether FIFA can turn anything like the profit in Morocco that it could in the North America. Let’s see whether FIFA bigwigs can have as good a time in Casablanca, Rabat, Fez, and Tetouan as they could in L.A., San Francisco, New York, and Montreal.

FIFA will hold this year’s World Cup in Russia. Does Russia take in large numbers of immigrants from the world’s hellholes? I don’t think so. I think Russia creates large numbers of immigrants from hellholes, and makes the hellholes more hellish through its murderous bombing of innocent civilians on behalf of the bloody Syrian dictator.

The 2022 World Cup is set to take place in Qatar, a monarchy and dictatorship that abuses foreign workers. According to Amnesty International, the government “unduly restrict[s] the rights to freedom of expression, association and peaceful assembly.” In addition, “migrant workers face[] exploitation and abuse,” while “discrimination against women remain[s] entrenched in both law and practice.”

Yet, FIFA has no qualms about hosting the World Cup in Russia and Qatar (bribes helped, no doubt). If it declines to hold the event in the U.S. because of our politics and policies, we should consider it an honor.