October 25 – More than three-quarters of North Americans polled in a survey broadly support plans to host the 2026 World Cup.
An online survey was conducted by Ipsos for the governing bodies of Canada, Mexico and the US and found that 77% those polled were in favour of hosting the first-ever 48-team World Cup.
Eighty-one per cent of respondents thought hosting the event would be good for their specific country. And nearly six in 10 said they would be interested in attending matches if they were nearby.
Support for hosting the tournament was 76% in Canada, 74 % in the U.S. and 83% in Mexico.
The North American bid is up against Morocco with the two rival bidders having to submit their bid books to FIFA by March 2018. The winning bid is due to be announced next June at the FIFA Congress on the eve of the World Cup in Russia.
Ipsos says roughly 1,000 adults were polled in each country. “One of main findings is really strong support people have to the idea of North America hosting (the World Cup),” Ipsos spokesman Chris Jackson said in a conference call. “There is no real opposition to speak of.”
Respondents particularly liked that the event would need minimal new infrastructure.
“One of the strengths of our hosting concept is that we have ready-made stadiums and infrastructure prepared to stage the first 48-team FIFA World Cup,” said John Kristick, executive director of the United Bid Committee.
Kristick told the conference call that the final number of cities to host matches would be whittled down to between 12 and 16 and that the possible ousting of Sunil Gulati as U.S. Soccer Federation president early next year would have no effect on the bid.
Gulati is head of the United Bid committee but his position at U.S. Soccer is under threat following the country’s embarrassing failure to qualify for Russia. A number of potential rivals for his already 12-year-long presidency have emerged including former players Eric Wynalda and Landon Donovan, as well as Boston-based lawyer Steve Gans and International Champions Cup and Relevant Sports owner Charlie Stillitano.
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