The Cable

U.S. Soccer Chief Hints Trump Could Cost the U.S. the 2026 World Cup

The head of U.S. soccer warns a Donald Trump presidency could cost American the World Cup.

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The United States desperately wants to host a World Cup. When it lost the 2022 bid to Qatar in 2010, former President Bill Clinton was reportedly so angry he threw an ornament into a mirror in rage. Now, with America angling to win the 2026 tournament, the head of U.S. soccer is hinting Donald Trump could cost America from hosting the men’s competition, which hasn’t been held in the United States since 1994. 

Speaking ahead of the U.S. men’s national team victory Tuesday night, U.S. Soccer Federation President Sunil Gulati suggested whoever wins the White House could have an impact on who wins the World Cup. He didn’t mention the Republican front-runner by name, but his insinuation was clear.

“The world’s perception of the United States is affected by who is in the White House,” Galati said. “Having somebody in the White House that gives the country an outward-looking view, and a personality that is more easier accepted around the world, is positive for the United States and then more specifically for hosting events here and for our general image from a sports perspective, but it’s far beyond sports.”

He continued, “A co-hosted World Cup with Mexico would be a little trickier if [former] Secretary [of State Hillary] Clinton is not in the White House.”

When asked specifically about Trump the U.S. soccer chief was evasive. “We are going to bid for a World Cup if we think we are going to be successful,” he said. “Whether we can be successful in a World Cup bid or an L.A. Olympic bid is affected by the world’s view of our leaders, and not just leaders of the soccer federation.”

Gulati may be right; political leadership of a country is a factor when FIFA officials decide where to host the World Cup. But if allegations are true, it might come down to who is willing to pay the most for the tournament — rather than the head of state — that determines the outcome of FIFA votes.

Photo credit: CHRIS TROTMAN/Getty Images

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