World Cup’s Political Football Makes A White House Visit

What: The leaders of FIFA and U.S. Soccer Federation met with the President to discuss 2026 World Cup plans.
Why it matters: Though largely ceremonial, the meeting was important in supporting the growth of the sport here.

There may be no more political sport than the global game of football, and there may be no more politicized sport in the United States than American football (@NFL).

This week, the global game reminded us that if it is to keep growing here, having the buy-in of the most important office in the world will be a help.

FIFA president Gianni Infantino and U.S. Soccer Federation president Carlos Cordeiro (@CACSoccervisited President Donald Trump to talk about plans for bringing the 2026 World Cup (@FIFAWorldCup) to North America, a massive global business event that will always need the support of government, no matter who sits in the Oval Office when the Games arrive.

...[F]ootball, the global game, continues to flourish in America, especially among the growing Latino demographic, with much brighter days ahead for the game as it matures in the United States.

“I would definitely like to see that soccer in the U.S. is becoming one of the top sports, not the No. 5,” Infantino told The Washington Post and SI.com on Tuesday. “You have to transform this country into a soccer country … What I want to see is the U.S. league, the U.S. national team, the U.S. youth development structures, boys and girls, being part of the top three in the world.”

The 2026 tournament will be one of unprecedented scale: three host nations, 48 teams, 80 games and 16 venues. So work has to start early, and although Tuesday’s Oval Office event was mostly one of celebration, commemoration and gratitude (Trump’s promises regarding access and visas were key during the buildup to the June vote), there was a bit of logistical and political talk.

A lot of those logistics and commitments require legislation, Cordeiro added. Although Trump won’t be in office in 2026, Cordeiro added, “It’s the signature of the president of the day, and it outlives any individual. It’s the commitment of the country.”

While there was probably little talk of the trade wars waging between Washington and its allies to the north and south these days, it is clear that the business of soccer will need great support to flourish, and the start off stamp of approval to move things along in Washington, a city which has just seen the new home of the D.C. United (@dcunited) (Audi Field) unveiled with great fanfare, is very encouraging as a next step, not just for World Cup, but for MLS and the business of soccer in general.

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There are currently are 17 venues in the USA, three in Canada and three in Mexico in contention to make the final cut. That should be decided by the end of 2020. There will be 60 games in the USA and 10 each in Mexico and Canada. MetLife Stadium in East Rutherford, N.J., is the favorite to host the final.

There was certainly no talk of “Take A Knee,” the issue which has polarized American football and the White House, and continues to create issues off the field for the NFL, still the most popular and effective sport in terms of business across America. Despite recent reports of some declining youth numbers, football, the global game, continues to flourish in America, especially among the growing Latino demographic, with much brighter days ahead for the game as it matures in the United States.

While this week’s visit was more ceremonial, it presents a great step forward for all those stakeholders involved in the sport in America, politics kicked aside.


Joe Favorito @joefav

Joe Favorito has over 32 years of strategic communications/marketing, business development and public relations expertise in sports, entertainment, brand building, media training, television, athletic administration and business. The Brooklyn, New York native has managed the day-to- day activities in strategic communications for: Two of the world’s hallmark sports and entertainment brands (the New York Knickerbockers and Philadelphia 76ers), the world’s largest professional sport for women (the WTA Tour), the world’s largest sports National Governing Body (the United States Tennis Association) and the world’s largest annual sporting event (the US Open). He also oversaw the strategic planning, investor relations, communications and digital business development of the International Fight League during its two year run as a Mixed Martial Arts venture and a publicly traded company. Favorito serves on the boards of the Weinstein Carnegie Group, New York Sports Venture Capital, the National Sports Marketing Network, the Drexel University Sports Business program, and Columbia University’s Sports Management program (where he is an instructor in Strategic Communications and Director of Industry Relations). Joe also maintains a well trafficked blog on the sports marketing and publicity field, “Sports Marketing and PR Roundup,” on the website joefavorito.com, as well authoring the first- ever text on the sports publicity industry (“Sports Publicity” published in August 2007 by Reed Elsevier and updated in 2012 by Taylor Publishing with a third printing coming in 2018), which is used in over 60 sports management programs in the U.S. He has been a guest speaker on sports marketing, social media and communications at a host of institutions, including Princeton University, the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania, Georgetown University, the University of Florida Law School, New York University, the Stanford University Graduate School of Business and many others. He is also a frequent spokesperson on the industry for publications ranging from Ad Age and The New York Times to NPR and CBS News. A graduate of Fordham University, Joe, his wife and two children reside in River Vale, New Jersey.

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