The 2026 World Cup currently does not have a home. In the eyes of many soccer fans and analysts, the runaway favorite to host the tournament is the United States, as part of a co-hosting bid with Canada and Mexico. Announced in April of 2017, the trio of countries coming together would boast a mix of already existing soccer-friendly stadiums and infrastructure conducive to hosting a massive tournament.
But according to a report by Sam Borden of ESPN FC, a myriad of issues could come together to keep the World Cup out of North America and, instead, have it go to Morocco. The most fascinating aspect of it is that President Donald Trump, who would no longer be in office by the time the World Cup kicks off, would reportedly inadvertently play a major role in costing the trio of countries the tournament.
More recently, however, the North American bid has had to counter an anti-American sentiment that stems largely from actions taken by President Donald Trump’s administration, multiple sources said. Those actions include a travel ban affecting mostly-Arab countries, public comments that perpetuate stereotypes and the reported use of profanity in describing poorer countries.
When North American bid officials visit with federation officials in a foreign country, sources said they rarely get questions about stadiums or hotels, according to sources; rather, they have been quizzed about whether the United States can be considered a friendly place for foreigners.
It is quite the revelation, one that would be devastating for the United States Soccer Federation, which is reeling after its men’s team missed out on the 2018 World Cup. As ESPN explained, there are other factors that would impact this bid, too. Namely, the way that bidding generally works could put the Canada, Mexico, and the United States behind the eight ball.
To get the World Cup, 104 of the 201 countries that vote on who hosts the tournament must vote in favor of your bid. While it makes sense for all the reasons listed above for the joint bid to get the World Cup, Borden wrote that an official believes “Morocco has the support of much of Asia and South America, as well as its home continent of Africa, which would put it over the 104 votes needed.”
Part of this is geographical — all votes being made public means few (if any) countries from Africa’s massive federation would be expected to vote against Morocco — while others are related to soccer. Namely, with regards to South America, Borden noted that there are countries upset with the fact that the U.S. Department of Justice exposed corruption with some soccer federations back in 2015.
This could very well be a case of all of the things working against the United States’ bid being hyper-analyzed, but if this a sign of things to come, it would be a brutal pill to swallow. The FIFA Congress will vote on which of the bids on the table for 2026 will win on June 13, 2018.