Donald Trump's controversies could hurt country's joint 2026 World Cup bid, says US Soccer president Sunil Gulati
International political controversies involving US President Donald Trump could hurt worldwide perceptions of America and its joint 2026 World Cup bid with Canada and Mexico, outgoing US Soccer Federation president Sunil Gulati warned on Thursday.
New York: International political controversies involving US President Donald Trump could hurt worldwide perceptions of America and its joint 2026 World Cup bid with Canada and Mexico, outgoing US Soccer Federation president Sunil Gulati warned on Thursday.
In comments reported on ESPN's website, made at a public forum in Philadelphia at the United Soccer Coaches convention, Gulati said he worries that political issues could hurt the North American bid and it "will be a tough battle" even with Morocco as the only rival bidder.
Advantages in stadium size and tourism infrastructure favour the Mexico-Canada-USA application but Gulati stressed that more is needed to convince voters given that the entire membership, rather than an executive council as in past balloting, will decide on 13 June whether to select one of the bids to host in 2026.
"We have to go out and convince what eventually will be 104 voters to vote for us," Gulati told the audience. "We would like to get a few extra not to make it a one-vote swing. But this won't be easy."
Gulati cited situations out of the bid group's control, touching upon stormy US relations with North Korea, Trump's plan to move the US embassy in Israel to Jerusalem and Trump's decision to withdraw from the 2015 Paris Agreement on climate change.
"This is not only about our stadiums and our hotels and all that. It's about perceptions of America and it's a difficult time in the world," Gulati said.
"So there are only certain things we can control. We can't control what happens at the 38th parallel in Korea, we can't control what happens with embassies in Tel Aviv and we can't control what happens with climate change accords. We do the best we can. We have the support of Washington."
Gulati will remain chairman of the united bid committee board of directors despite his departure next month after 12 years as US Soccer's president and following the Americans failure to qualify for this year's World Cup in Russia.
"I'm spending 90 percent of waking hours on (the bid) at this point," Gulati said.
In a US Soccer video, Gulati said that, "Regardless of whether other countries were bidding, we would treat this as a competition," and added, "We're going to treat every part of the bid application very seriously and exceed all of FIFA's standards and make it impossible to say why not USA, Mexico and Canada."
Serie A: AC Milan's Zlatan Ibrahimovic to miss at least two games due to knee injury, confirms coach Stefano Pioli
The Swede, who returned to international football in March after a five-year absence, suffered the injury during Milan's 3-0 victory over top-four rivals Juventus at the weekend.
Serie A: Veteran goalkeeper Gianluigi Buffon says he will part ways with Juventus at the end of season
Buffon has been behind Wojciech Szczesny in the goalkeeping pecking order since returning to Juve from a short spell at Paris Saint-Germain in 2019 and has made just 12 appearances in all competitions this season.
India are already out of reckoning for a 2022 FIFA World Cup berth but still in contention for a 2023 Asian Cup spot in the joint qualifiers.