By the time U.S. Soccer president Sunil Gulati sat before the media on Monday in New York City to discuss the worst-kept secret in soccer – that the United States would bid for the 2026 World Cup with co-hosts Canada and Mexico – the official announcement had lost considerable steam. Blame CONCACAF president Victor Montagliani for that. He let the cat out of the bag last week.
But what was newsworthy about Monday’s fanfare was President Donald Trump backing the bid despite Mexico’s involvement.
Trump controversially made headlines on the campaign trail in regards to Mexico, whether it was his description of Mexican immigrants or his plans to build a wall along the border. So when Gulati was asked about relations between the current administration and the U.S.’s CONCACAF neighbor to the south, he revealed that the president had given his blessing.
“We have very specifically addressed this with the president,” Gulati said. “He is fully supportive of the joint bid, encouraged the joint bid, and is especially pleased with the fact Mexico is participating in the joint bid.”
“We don’t believe sport can solve all the issues in the world,” Gulati added, “but, especially with what’s going on in the world today, we believe this is a hugely positive signal and symbol of what we can do together in unifying people, especially in our three countries.”
Last month, FIFA president Gianni Infantino raised concerns about an American World Cup bid over the Trump administration’s travel ban of Muslim-majority countries. Another U.S. president will be in the White House in 2026, but Infantino felt compelled to reiterate the requirements for any country looking to host FIFA’s showcase event, which will be expanded from 32 to 48 teams after the 2022 tournament in Qatar.
“Teams who qualify for a World Cup need to have access to the country, otherwise there is no World Cup,” Infantino said. “That is obvious.”
Trump’s support to bring the World Cup back to America shouldn’t be all that surprising. After all, the Commander-in-Chief played a year of varsity soccer in high school.
— Guido Tresoldi (@GuidoTresoldi) November 12, 2016
But if Bruce Arena successfully leads the U.S. men’s national team to its eighth straight World Cup, will Trump travel to Russia next year to watch the Red, White and Blue?
This is where we really stick to sports and allow that topic to be discussed amongst yourselves in the comments below.
Joe Lago is the editor of FC Yahoo. Follow him on Twitter @joelago.