It seems like only yesterday Sepp Blatter announced on stage in Zurich that Russia and Qatar would be hosting the 2018 and 2022 World Cup finals. In a way, we are still dealing with the fall out from both those decisions. So, on the eve of Russia’s World Cup, a decision was to be made on who will host the 2026 finals.
In the end it came down to two choices: The United Bid that brought the US, Mexico and Canada together. And the Morocco bid, a long shot that had a lot of support in FIFA. After the problems of corruption and vote swapping in 2010, this time the vote was opened up to every FIFA association rather than the now abolished 22-person Executive Committee.
Back in March, things didn’t look great for the United bid, largely thanks to US president Donald Trump denouncing the developing world as being full of “shit hole countries”. That, and the attempted ban on muslims entering the US, alienated many and it looked like Morocco, which had a far inferior bid, might win out. I wrote this story for the Bleacher Report about it. The United bid were very worried indeed.
In the end, the United bid won easily. But only after Trump intervened again, essentially threatening any country that voted against the bid. Political pressure was put on each association and, it later emerged the United bid had a series of letters from Trump promising, privately, to allow anyone into the country for the finals. Still, politics and sport don’t mix, right?