Organisers of the bid to bring the 2026 World Cup to North America offered two eye-catching sweeteners to voters on Tuesday – a promise of a record US$11 billion profit for FIFA, and a written pledge from the United States government that it would grant visas to visitors without regard to religion or nationality.
The latter pledge, which bid officials said was delivered in a letter to football’s world governing body last week, could reassure Fifa members that a travel ban put in place by US President Donald Trump would not block some officials or fans from travelling to the tournament.
The Trump administration, through an executive order, has sought to block visitors to the US from a handful of countries, including five Muslim-majority nations.
The Supreme Court heard oral arguments last month on a third version of the travel ban. A decision is expected by the end of June, the same month Fifa’s member associations will vote on the 2026 host.
The US is in a partnership with Mexico and Canada, and they are up against Morocco’s solo bid.
FIFA will pick a winner at its congress in Moscow on June 13, one day before the opening match of the World Cup in Russia.
The promises about record revenues and profits, and the reassurances about travel visas were delivered on Tuesday by the three chairmen of the North American bid – US Soccer’s president Carlos Cordeiro, president of Mexico’s federation Decio de Maria, and Canadian Soccer Association general secretary Peter Montopoli – at the congress of the International Sports Press Association in Brussels.
The projected profit of US$11 billion would be more than double that of any previous tournament, in part because the 2026 event will be the first to include 48 teams and 80 matches, an expansion from the current 32 teams and 64 matches.
The revenue projections include more than US$5 billion in television rights fees; US$3.6 billion for sponsorship and licensing; and at least US$2.5 billion in ticket revenue. All the figures, as well as the prospect of 5.8 million tickets sold, would be records for a World Cup.
De Maria said the US government’s assurances that it would allow entry to “all eligible athletes, officials and fans from all countries around the world” were in line with Fifa’s requirements.
In his prepared remarks, he called them “strong guarantees”. But de Maria also noted the pledges were “subject to US law”, which seemed to leave open the possibility that the promises would be limited if the travel ban is upheld.
The revenue figures laid out by Cordeiro during the presentation also painted a welcome picture inside FIFA, which has lost millions of dollars in sponsorships and legal costs since a massive corruption scandal in 2015.