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.

What: The joint bid by the U.S., Canada and Mexico won the right to host 2026 FIFA World Cup, via voting results announced on Wednesday morning in Russia as World Cup kicks off this week.
Why it matters: In short, for millions of reasons. Especially with the U.S. and Canada not qualifying for this year’s event, this vote was critical to the future of soccer in North America. Dignitaries worldwide had plenty to say about the result.

It only took one vote on Wednesday morning in Russia, both sides issuing their final arguments as Morocco and the U.S., Canada and Mexico joint bid (@united2026quickly learned their fate after years of preparation. In the end, it was the United 2026 plan that secured the victory and right to host FIFA World Cup 2026 by a significant margin (two thirds of the electorate); the 16 host cities in the three nations are now on the clock for kickoff eight years from now.

“Thank you for the incredible privilege,” proclaimed U.S. Soccer (@ussoccerPresident Carlos Cordeiro (@CACSoccerto the FIFA contingent once the results were announced. “Football today is the only victor. We are all united in football.”

Every little kid who is 10 years old and says, ‘I want to play in that World Cup 10 years from now’ — well, why can’t they?

Here is a sampling of what Cordeiro and others said following the vote, the result of which means that 2026 will mark the first successful bid by three host nations:

Cordeiro: “I make the argument that we are a vast, powerful, wealthy nation, but we have haves and have-nots, and our disenfranchised are underserved, and in many ways these are the people with whom the sport resonates most. If we can bring them into the game, we’ll go from 4 million to 12 million participants. Every little kid who is 10 years old and says, ‘I want to play in that World Cup 10 years from now’ — well, why can’t they?”

Jason De Vos, Director of Development, Canada Soccer, via Twitter (@jasondevos): “To represent your country on home soil in a FIFA World Cup is the highest honour. It’s an historic day.”

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@LIGABancomerMX, via Twitter: Por tercera vez la pasión encuentra su hogar. Nadie vive el futbol como en México. #Mundial2026 ¡¡¡¡Tenemos Mundial!!! (tr: For the third time, passion finds its home. Nobody lives football like in Mexico. #Mundial2026 We have a World Cup !!!)

Morocco Football Federation president Fouzi Lekjaa: “I wish to congratulate Fifa for the conduct of this process and congratulate the president for what he has done in order to move things towards more transparency and more inclusion. I would like to reaffirm the determination of my country to continue to work for football and realise one day our dream to host the World Cup in Morocco.”

The Football Association (FA/English Football): “We congratulate the USA, Canada and Mexico on winning the bid to host the 2026 Fifa World Cup. Both bids were of a very high quality and we welcome the fact that the bidding process was both open and transparent.

FA: “We cast our vote for the ‘United’ bid as we believe the independent technical assessment made its advantages very clear. However, it is important to note that both bids were deemed to have met the hosting requirements and a tournament in Morocco, close to Europe and in a country that loves football, had a great deal for English football fans to be excited about.”

What: Carlos Cordeiro has been elected president of the U.S. Soccer Federation.
Why it matters: Can Cordeiro point U.S. Soccer back in the right direction, and will his Hispanic background influence the organization’s marketing efforts moving forward?

The U.S. Soccer Federation has a new president: Carlos Cordeiro, a longtime soccer “insider” of Colombian-Portuguese-Indian heritage, won a contentious election on Saturday in Orlando. Cordeiro, a 61 year old, the oldest of the finalists for the position, arrived in the U.S. when he was 15 years old with his widowed mother. The majority of his business career was spent with Goldman Sachs and he served as Vice-Chairman Asia. He continues to be associated with the company through a position as an honorary advisor.

Cordeiro takes over the position from longtime president Sunil Gulati amidst a business crossroads for American soccer. The men’s national team did not make the World Cup, and a joint bid with Canada and Mexico is coming together for the 2026 World Cup, which many see as essential for the continued growth of the game on all levels.

“My campaign was all about being more collaborative, inclusive, working on teams,” Cordeiro said of the style he will use as federation president, the chair of the board of directors, on Saturday. “You will see a very different leadership going forward.”

The new president will also be under the watchful eye of brands looking to engage in the game.

Cordeiro admits he is not a soccer expert, having never played the game past the age of 15, but wants to use his business acumen to build consensus for the future of the sport in the U.S. part of which is the continued power of the Latino audience and brands that are looking to engage in soccer. Liga MX continues to post the largest audiences in the U.S. in terms of broadcast numbers, and the continued growth of MLS from an audience and sponsorship side, working with USSF is vital. Soccer in the U.S. is also a key development point for a growing number of elite soccer clubs around the globe, with LaLiga now having an office in the States and other clubs looking to better engage with an American fan base directly. That may be competition for USSF, which is why unity throughout the fractured governance is going to be key for his regime.

Under Cordeiro, who has served as the federation’s vice president for the last two years and as an independent board member for nine years before that, the federation president will have less power than Gulati did. While other candidates were spending more time speaking to the media, Cordeiro kept a lower media profile and focused more on traveling to spend time with the voters.

On the business side, Cordeiro wants to appoint an independent board member to oversee the awarding of future commercial rights contracts. He also said he will seek to make the game more affordable for players and coaches by increasing scholarships and grants around the country, something which could have a large positive impact on the children of Latino immigrants, who love and embrace soccer and its culture but may still find issues with the structure of USSF’s elite system.

The new president will also be under the watchful eye of brands looking to engage in the game. Should they put their time and effort into a unified USSF and all its components, or look to the growing audiences of other leagues like the Bundesliga and the Premier League as they get an added promotional push from partners like FOX and NBC. There is no doubt the soccer and the business around it, is at a positive but careful crossroads in the U.S. Where the newly elected head will lead the sport is one we will watch carefully.

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