Columbus (AFP) – The election of Donald Trump as President of the United States would not impact any decision the country may make to bid for the 2026 World Cup, US Soccer Federation president Sunil Gulati said on Friday.
The US is considered favourite to host the tournament with the bidding process expected to get under way next year.
Mexico and Canada, also from the CONCACAF region, have also expressed interest in hosting and the possibility of a joint bid or even one featuring all three nations is also an option, said Gulati.
Gulati enjoyed a close relationship with former President Bill Clinton and with Barack Obama’s administration but he said he looked forward to cooperating with Trump.
“He’s the president of the United States on January 20 and we’ll work with him, as will be true for people around the world,” Gulati told a small group of reporters.
“Now, how that relationship works with other world leaders and how that impacts US foreign policy or the views of the US remains to be seen. But it’s not going to dissuade us or persuade us to bid.
“Perceptions matter, for sure, but those will develop in the months to come, not only in campaigns,” he added.
“We haven’t made a decision about a World Cup bid. We won’t make a decision until we know what all the (FIFA) rules are,” said Gulati, who is also a member of the FIFA Council.
“A bid, if it should happen, relies critically on cooperation with the government in a number of areas. We look forward to working with the president-elect. He is an avid sports fan and we’ll wait to see if we bid and what the rules of engagement are,” he added.
The US hosted the World Cup in 1994 but lost out to Qatar in the bidding for the 2022 edition, beaten in the final ballot by 14 votes to eight.
Gulati said the whole of the United States would need to be behind any bid for the 2026 tournament.
“If we decide to bid, this will be an American bid that the country has to be behind. The president doesn’t have to love a particular sport, any more than a governor does to support an Olympic bid or whatever it might be.
“But we fully expect that to be the case because if we are bidding, it will be good for US soccer and will be good for the United States,” he said.