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How 3 Letters From Trump Might Help Bring the 2026 World Cup to the US

June 12,2018 16:11

MOSCOW — When the officials leading the United States' bid to host the 2026 World Cup — a joint effort with Mexico and Canada — hit the campaign trail in earnest this year, they quickly encountered uncomfortable questions from soccer associations ...

Then, in mid-April, after members of FIFA’s technical committee visited Mexico, the United States and Canada to evaluate the bid’s readiness, Mr. Cordeiro met with Mr. Kushner at the White House. Mr. Cordeiro thanked White House officials for the administration’s support throughout the bidding process, a person familiar with the meeting said, and then asked for one final set of clarifications from Mr. Trump guaranteeing access to all visitors should the Americans win the bid.
“FIFA could have red-flagged us if we hadn’t been able to give these assurances,” Mr. Cordeiro said.
The North American bid had entered the 2026 race early, and nearly ran unopposed. But Morocco, a four-time loser with its previous World Cup bids, including to the United States in 1994, has proved a resilient opponent.
Morocco has stressed its passion for soccer, its proximity to the European television market and, curiously but pointedly, its “very low gun circulation.” Once prohibitive favorites, the North Americans remain cautiously optimistic that they will prevail — “I feel we have a path to victory,” Mr. Cordeiro said Sunday — but they also remained wary as they crisscrossed the globe seeking support.
In the five weeks since Mr. Trump’s May 2 letter was created, it has traveled the world. Mr. Cordeiro and the presidents of the Canadian and Mexican soccer federations, Steve Reed and Decio De María, have been to Asia, Africa, the Middle East in Europe in the past two months. They knew at each stop that should a potential voter raise the issue of visas, they could refer to the president’s letter, an image of which always was available for reference with the swipe of a finger across a cellphone.
Mr. Cordeiro even quoted it in a letter of his own, sent on May 25 to the top officials of each of FIFA’s 211 member federations and shared with The Times on Monday.
“In our bid’s discussions with football associations around the world, one topic has been visa and entrance requirements to the United States in 2026,” Mr. Cordeiro wrote. “I want to assure you that we take this matter very seriously and that the U.S. government has made strong commitments to FIFA.”

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