Ahead of the FIFA World Cup evaluation task force making a final decision on the host of the 2026 World Cup on June 13th in Moscow, I thought it was only right to give my thoughts on the United Bid.
The United States Soccer Federation claims that by hosting the 2026 World Cup it will help grow the beautiful game in the U.S.
USSF should be growing the game, every single day. There’s soccer in our communities every single week, whether a pro team, a semipro or an amateur side. If the USSF can’t find a way to add value to all these levels of play, how can it really claim to be acting on its mandate to improve the sport in America? A friend of mine, a soccer coach, was venting his frustrations over the USSF’s consistent failure to maximize its promotion of the Lamar Hunt U.S Open Cup. On the surface, twitter coverage, streams and a match center offer the appearance of engagement. But many missed opportunities are lost along the way. Some simple tweaks could easily and cheaply expand the profile of America’s oldest and best tournament. Allowing all lower-league club opponents to host matches, covering travel expenses for PDL/NPSL/UPSL clubs, and offering purses at each round to lower-league clubs would do wonders to encourage competition and tournament coverage.
The failure of the USSF to properly execute on what should be the country’s shining jewel of the sport just highlights the point that the United States is unfit to host the FIFA World Cup in 2026. We can call it a United bid but it’s mainly an American vehicle.
When the USSF claims its highest priority is to reach, and win, the World Cup, a lot of people see their decision logic in a new light. They ask why don’t we have Pro/Rel, or why we don’t follow other common practices amongst other World Cup perennials, and find it hard to escape the suspicion that it’s because the management of USSF don’t care about the game or its supposed highest priority. If they did, at the very least we would have had Pro/Rel by now. The U.S Open Cup would be on national TV and treated even half as well as England does the FA Cup. One imagines the alternate path where the U.S was well on on its way to becoming a soccer powerhouse; instead the sad truth of our reality is that we remain many miles off.
According to the Daily Mail, the United Bid are changing their financial forecasts. In their bid book submitted to FIFA last March, it is alleged they said that they would bring in $1.3 billion from ticket sales. But at a presentation in Brussels earlier this month, they had upped their ticket revenue pledges to $1.8 billion. The average ticket price for the United Bid is now expected to be $428. Compared to the Morocco Bid, their average ticket price is expected to be $225. This goes to show you how the USSF is willing to sacrifice domestic engagement with the sport’s greatest competition to ensure they get paid. The fans are the most important part of the sport. Without the fans, clubs and leagues can’t generate enough interest to attract sponsors and local or national TV deals. and yet, the fans don’t get the respect they deserve from USSF.
To go along with the shady organization the United States Soccer Federation is, FIFA President Gianni Infantino has publicly said that he wants the United Bid to host the 2026 World Cup because it will make more money for FIFA than the Morocco Bid.
At the end of the month, the FIFA World Cup Evaluation Task Force will reveal if the Morocco Bid will make it to the vote on June 13th in Moscow. I find myself personally hoping Morocco makes it to the vote, You don’t want to see the United Bid be the only bid up for vote, and I suspect that FIFA would not want that either. Whats the point of that? It would be hard to explain how that happened.
Former FIFA President Sepp Blatter had this to say on the FIFA World Cup Evaluation Task Force: “They cannot do that even if one of the candidates is not a good one, they have the right to be at the congress. That’s why I’m advocating that Morocco has to go to the congress. Morocco cannot be kicked out before the congress.”
You might think, why should I listen to Sepp Blatter, he got banned from the sport and had to step down as President. But he has a point. FIFA carries its own burden to expand the sport throughout the world. It is hardly respectable as a sports governing organization either. And yet, we continue to press and hope that the Morocco bid will at least make it to the vote so that the member associations can decide.