COLUMBUS, Ohio: Sunil Gulati has played down concerns that the election of Donald Truimp as US President threatens the success of a likely bid to host the 2026 World Cup finals writes KEIR RADNEDGE.
Gulati, president of the United States Soccer Federation, pointed out to a weekend media briefing that consideration of even whether to submit an application was still a long way off.
He said: “We won’t make a decision until we know what all rules are.
“Part of those rules are clear. There were four or five important decisions that were made at the last FIFA Council meeting, and another one or two or three in January, the more critical for us being the size of the competition and the format of the competition along with the rules of bidding.
“We will then make a decision. Obviously we have had preliminary discussions.”
Bid applications involve the provision of national government guarantees concerning issues such as security to financial arrangements. This is more complex for the US, with its federal system, than for many other countries.
Gulati said: “A bid, if it should happen, relies critically on cooperation with government in a number of areas, and we look forward to working with the president-elect. He’s an avid sports fan.”
He added: “In the White House today and in the White House on [Jan. 21], there will be people in the building who love the game. That’s true in every statehouse across the country. That’s different than 20 years ago, or in 1988 when we were bidding [for the 1994 World Cup].
“I can name the people in the White House who are huge fans and tweet about it, come to our games, that write about it, wish us good luck for today. That will be true in any administration for the foreseeable future.”
Neighbours Canada and Mexico have both declared an interest in hosting and a three-way joint staging may also be a possibility. The reality of future of US-Mexico relations, in the wake of Trump’s election, may impinge on this option.
Last June Gulati had said: “I think a co-hosted World Cup with Mexico here would be a little tricky if Secretary [Hillary] Clinton was not in the White House,” Gulati added.
Gulati said informal discussion had taken place with Mexico and Canada but added: “We have some very different opinions within even our own board about that, about the feasibility, the desirability or need for joint bid.”