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USSF President Carlos Cordeiro: United Bid’s impact on soccer in North America could be ‘transformational’

President of U.S. Soccer Carlos Cordeiro presents a joint United bid by Canada, Mexico and the United States to host the 2026 World Cup at the FIFA congress in Moscow, Russia, Wednesday, June 13, 2018. (AP Photo/Pavel Golovkin)

The first 48-team World Cup is still eight years away, but United States Soccer Federation President Carlos Cordeiro is already imagining the impact the three-county United Bid could have on soccer in North America. 

The United Bid, which combines the U.S, Mexico and Canada, on Wednesday was awarded the 2026 World Cup over Morocco, winning 67 percent of the vote at FIFA’s annual meeting held Wednesday in Moscow.

“We believe that soccer, or football, will become the preeminent sport in North America,” Cordeiro said. 

He added, “The reality is, in the United States on the men’s side, we have a lot of competition with three other sports. We’re not quite at the top just yet. We believe this event will become a lightning rod. Will become 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, speaking alongside Canada Soccer President Steven Reed and Mexican Football Federation President Decio De María on a conference call, said the joint efforts of the three countries secured the competition.

“When we got together some years ago to come together as a team, we all recognized that we’re stronger as a team,” Cordeiro said. “No one country here, even including my own, maybe could have done it by themselves.

“I think we definitely presented a much more compelling opportunity to FIFA and to the FIFA member associations coming together as three nations. I think that is really the story here, the fact that we decided to come together.”

The bid included 23 cities across the U.S., Canada and Mexico. Eventually, that number will be narrowed down to 16 host cities.

“We put together an amazing bid – 23 fantastic cities across three countries, obviously supported by wonderful infrastructure and hundreds of years of common culture,” Cordeiro said. “We’ve shared each other’s languages and food. We see this as a great celebration of football that will be something that we’re looking forward to.

“We were blessed with 23 really world-class facilities, stadiums. Some iconic, some brand-new, cutting-edge and everything in between. I think it will be a very difficult decision that we will all have to make, the three of us and obviously the folks at FIFA, when we have to determine the final 16. It speaks to the quality of the facilities we have and this is not a decision I’m looking forward to because it’s going to be very, very hard.”

The United Bid received 134 votes. Morocco received 65. There was one vote for “none of the bids.”

Cordeiro was also asked about the increasingly partisan political climate in the United States under President Donald Trump and the president’s impact on the bid, which some worried could derail the United Bid’s chances. 

Cordeiro said the effort in the United States was “truly bipartisan,” citing a resolution that passed in both the Senate and the House supporting the United Bid.

“It so happens that our president is today is a Republican, but at the end of the day, this was a bipartisan effort,” he said. “The folks at the White House were very focused on assisting us and getting all the right paperwork.”

He added the complexity came from three nations working together to get a bid done.

“FIFA would never have awarded us this mandate today, they wouldn’t have given us the scores we got, which were the highest scores, we wouldn’t have achieved that, were it not for the fact that we got exactly what we needed from all of our governments,” Cordeiro said.

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