Is there a chance the North American bid fails for the 2026 FIFA World Cup?
The United States-led bid for the 2026 FIFA World Cup is getting a strong challenge from Morocco's bid ahead of the major vote, according to ESPN.
According to some estimated vote totals, Morocco is not only close but ahead of the North American bid that also includes Canada and Mexico. The winning bid must receive 104 of the 211 member nation votes when the process begins on June 14.
There has been some concern for the North American bid being hurt by President Trump's policies but the bid has countered by stressing the involvement of Canada and Mexico, according to ESPN. The parts of Trump policies that have come under the microscope by soccer officials includes the travel ban that would affect mostly Arab countries. Trump has reportedly also made comments disparaging poor countries.
This year's voting process will have FIFA member nations vote on the host country or countries as opposed to just having FIFA's executive committee vote. The bid nations for Morocco, the United States, Mexico and Canada can not participate in the vote. The Guatemalan federation is also suspended. Some officials told ESPN that this would favor Morocco or tighten the gap between them and the North American bid. Morocco appears to be favored with support from much of Asia and South America and parts of Africa. The United States is expected to receive support from the Americas, Oceania, most of Europe and parts of Asia.
Despite the report by ESPN, former U.S. Soccer president and North American bid leader Sunil Gulati remains optimistic.
"We've never taken anything for granted in this process," Gulati told ESPN. "We understand that in a competitive election -- and that's what this is -- a lot of different things go into a decision."
Former FIFA president Sepp Blatter, who resigned amid the FIFA corruption scandal in 2015 and later banned from the sport for six years, has backed the Moroccan bid for the World Cup.
The 2026 World Cup host will be announced on June 13.