By Ugo Curty, Aips Young Reporter, Switzerland
Brussels, May 8, 2018 – The stark contrast between the two competing bidders to host the 2026 FIFA World Cup was set out at the AIPS Congress on Tuesday in Brussels. Morocco 2026 and United 2026 – United States, Canada and Mexico – have been campaigning around the world to persuade more than 200 national associations of their competing merits.
This was the first time they have appeared on the same media stage ahead of the open FIFA Congress vote in Moscow on June 13th, the eve of this year’s finals.
United stated their commercial credentials by projecting that the North American bid would bring in a record 11 billion dollars profit to FIFA’s coffers. By comparison, the international federation projects a 2019-2022 budget of “only” 6,56 billion dollars.
Carlos Cordeiro, bid co-chair and U.S. Soccer president, said on stage: “We expect the 2026 World Cup would generate a record $14bn in revenues for FIFA which would mean profits for FIFA of nearly $11bn . . . the most successful and profitable FIFA World Cup ever.”
In an interview with AIPS media Cordeiro later said: “We are generating what is in the best interest of football. A profit of this magnitude is unprecedented in any single-sport event in the world. That has to sink in. In terms of value, it could mean 50 million more per association.”
Morocco, by contrast, is promoting a different aspect of the bidding process: the role that sports can play in helping emerging countries. “The World Cup is not attributed only on the number of seats you offer in stadiums or on who makes more money,” insisted Hicham El Amrani, bid CEO in an exclusive sit-down. “We will make enough money to make FIFA profitable. That is a crucial end. We proved that our bid will make double the amount of what was accomplished in South Africa and Brazil.”
Beside the big numbers, Morocco 2026 underlines the developmental aspect of attributing the World Cup to Africa. “Otherwise, we can only give the World Cups and Olympics to the same countries around the world,” continued El Amrani. “These nations are already able to organize such important events today. The power of sport is also to help develop certain areas of the world.”
For the first time in history, member associations will elect the World Cup host country in an open vote. The winning bid will need to target 104 votes out of the 207 total (FIFA counts 211 members but the 4 biding countries are not eligible to vote).
Both contenders approve the reformed system of an open vote in congress. “In the past, the reduced number of FIFA Council’s  members did not represent all the nationalities, continents and tendencies,” explained El Amrani. “It is a fairer process. We have the entire support of what we believe to be the majority of countries around the world, not only in Africa but across Europe and Asia as well.”
Cordeiro commented: “FIFA has gone to extraordinary length to make this a fair and transparent process and it’s on that basis that we decided to go after the 2026 World Cup.”
Neither is taking anything for granted. The United bid leaders played down their role as favorites. Cordeiro said: “We are ready to take on any competition but you have to respect any competitors.”
His fellow co-chair bid and Mexican Football Federation president, Decio de María, used a football example to illustrate the situation. “Real Madrid can lose to a second division team. If you don’t prepare well you may lose. We have taken nothing for granted. United has the same chances to win as Morocco.”