Officials vow North America hosting World Cup 2026 will yield huge profit, not Morocco
BY CARLITA LEO
The president of the U.S. Soccer Federation, Carlos Cordeiro, said earlier this week in Brussels in an address to the International Sports Press Association (AIPS), that if North America hosts the 2026 edition of the world soccer cup, the single largest sporting event in the world, FIFA (the International Federation of Football Association) will pluck a record-breaking $11 billion profit.
Cordeiro, one of the three co-chairs of the bid for North America, in conjunction with Canada and Mexico, said:
“I can announce today that, working with FIFA, we expect that a 2026 World Cup in North America would generate a new record: more than $14 billion in revenue for FIFA.”
The North American trio is facing tough competition from Morocco which is fighting to become the only second African nation to host the 48-team tournament after South Africa had that opportunity in 2010. FIFA will announce the winner of the tough bidding race in a vote in Moscow on 13 June.
The North American bid has long been seen as the front-runner, at a time when FIFA, having delved into its financial reserves to spend $600 in the past three years (according to a source quoted by the French news agency, AFP), is hungry for fresh cash.
Cordeiro predicts the following breakdown of revenues: the sale of 5.8 million tickets that would generate an estimated $2.5 billion in gate money; and commercial hospitality that would bring in $1-1.5 billion. These would be crowned by a sponsorship bonanza estimated at $3.6 billion, with Fortune 500 companies eager to sign on for the World Cup.
One key argument in the Moroccan bid is that time zones make it more attractive for European television schedules. The North American bid counters this by saying that media revenue, if the event is held in North America, would reach an unprecedented $5 billion.
Politics has invited itself in the debate thanks to none other than the impulsive man at the White House since January 2017. In its address to the delegates of the International Sports Press Association (AIPS) this week in Brussels, the president of the U.S. Soccer Federation called on his audience to “ignore the politics of the moment,” a hint to a provocative statement by Donald Trump who twitted earlier: “It would be a shame if countries that we always support were to lobby against the U.S. bid.” He added: “Why should we be supporting these countries when they don’t support us [including at the United Nations]?”
Clearly, these disparaging remarks of the president, which add to his crude remarks about Africa and the Caribbean nations earlier this year, make the North American bidding team nervous as they attempt to woo FIFA voters from more than 200 countries. In reference to that, Cordeiro remarked:
“Let me acknowledge upfront that, as with many international bids over the years, the question of who will host in 2026 has at times become mixed with geopolitics. […] We are asking that we be judged, not on the politics of the moment, but on the merits of our bid.”