The group hoping to bring the 2026 World Cup to North America has defended its decision for a 60-10-10 split in games.
The plan calls for the U.S. to stage 60 games, including all games from the quarter-finals. Canada and Mexico will each stage 10 matches.
Carlos Cordeiro, president of the U.S. Soccer Federation, called it “the most optimal mix of cities and matches.” And he said the bid is not anticipating that the world governing body of soccer will make any changes to its proposal, assuming it wins.
“The split of matches that we have proposed to FIFA frankly reflect the resources of the three countries,” Cordeiro told a media conference call Monday. “We in the United States are blessed with some very substantial resources in terms of stadium infrastructure, cities and so on. And that reflects the 60 matches we have on the table.
“But at the end of the day there is a reason why FIFA has encouraged joint bids and we do think that our joint bids taken together provide for a vastly superior bid than our competition.”
🇩🇪 Germany's World Cup winning goal in 2014. pic.twitter.com/scZrsflbFQ
— FIFA World Cup (@WorldCupHQ) March 3, 2018
The so-called unified bid is up against Morocco to stage the men’s soccer showcase. A decision on the winning bid will be made June 13 at the FIFA Congress in Mexico.
The North American group presented its bid book to FIFA on Friday in Zurich.
Steven Reed, president of the Canada Soccer Association, downplayed the decision by Vancouver to withdraw as a candidate host city because it could not agree to FIFA’s demands.
“I think we’re still really excited about that the candidate host cities that we have,” said Reed, referencing Edmonton, Montreal and Toronto.
“I guess to be perfectly honest I would be disappointed in that it’s my back yard and I’ve lived there for most of my life,” added Reed, a native of North Vancouver, when asked again about Vancouver missing out.
Chicago and Minneapolis also pulled out at the last minute.
The 2026 World Cup will feature a newly expanded format with 48 teams and 80 games, up from 32 and 60 respectively.
— FIFA World Cup 🏆 (@FIFAWorldCup) March 14, 2018
Cordeiro also cited the “opportunity for record revenues” with all games sold out and some 5.8 million tickets sold, making for ticketing revenue of more than US$2.1 billion.
The North American bid features 23 candidate host cities — including the three in Canada and three in Mexico. That list will be likely be reduced to no more than 16 by FIFA should the North American bid prevail.
Mexican Football Federation president Decio De Maria said it will be easy for those living in the north of Mexico to attend games in the southern U.S.
“I think it is the same for Canadians,” he said. “They can attend easily the games that are going to be in the north of the U.S.”
De Maria called that mobility “a rich powerful tool of our bid.”
The three executives were in Kuala Lumpur where they were presenting their bid to Asian soccer officials. They have already visited officials in South America, Africa and Europe.
“We’re not taking any vote for granted,” said Cordeiro.
The U.S. soccer boss said he was not concerned that the North American bid might be affected by anti-Trump sentiments around the globe.
“We believe strongly that this decision will be made on its merits,” he said.
“Look, this is not geopolitics,” he added, when pressed on the matter. “We’re talking about football and fundamentally, at the end of the day, what’s in the best interest of football and our footballing community. And we’ve had no backlash.”
Neil Davidson, The Canadian Press