International friendly matches being played in soccer this weekend can only mean one thing: the World Cup is getting closer. In less than three months, the 2018 World Cup kicks off in Russia. When the starting XIs for Russia and Saudi Arabia line up on the pitch on June 14th, the world’s media, fans and casuals alike will be watching. However, the more crucial date for the future of soccer will be the day before. On June 13th, FIFA will decide where the 2026 World Cup will take place. And they might be making a colossal mistake.
So far, the leader is the joint bid from the United States, Mexico, and Canada. With the U.S. federation leading the charge, it is the most logical option. However, after the U.S. failed to make the 2018 World Cup, President Sunil Gulati had no choice but to step down. Doubts started to surround the bid when a few major cities dropped out of consideration for hosting matches. Then, FIFA’s former president Sepp Blatter (aka soccer’s most corrupt man) decided to climb out of whatever hole he was hibernating in and tweet this message.
“World Cup 2026: Co-hosting rejected by FIFA after 2002 (also applied in 2010 and 2018). And now: Morocco would be the logical host! And it is time for African again!”
First of all, I don’t know who let this man tweet out of his jail cell.
Second of all, this is a horrible idea. Morocco is a great country, and the atmosphere of another World Cup in Africa would be amazing. But Blatter is not learning from his previous mistakes. The awarding of the 2018 and 2022 World Cups to Russia and Qatar respectively have both been extremely problematic for their own reasons.
The upcoming tournament in Russia has a whole lot of concerns for visitors. Violence is inevitable. Just this February, a police officer was killed in Spain due to riots after a game between Athletic Bilbao and Russian club Zenit St. Petersburg in the Europa League. In an article for ESPNFC, one member of the violence said that the world “will see how our police and special forces work. They must react much better and faster than in Bilbao.”
Other concerns of racism and price-gouging cap off the list of worries for Russia. However, Qatar has a whole new host of issues. The construction for the 2022 tournament is being done by slaves. Said slaves can’t leave the country until their masters approve their visa. According to a video made by John Oliver in 2014, an estimated 4,000 workers will be killed before any soccer is played in 2022.
The joint bid led by U.S. is the right choice to avoid these problems in the future. There won’t be any stadiums built just specifically for the World Cup. There will be new stadiums in 2026, but similar to Banc of California downtown, these stadiums will be dedicated to other clubs, whether they be soccer teams, football teams or anything else. The stadium that hosted the 2014 final in Brazil is now used as a parking lot for buses, so the last thing the U.S. will allow is to be used as a temporary party zone for FIFA.
With the best security and best housing for visitors, the U.S. bid is the safe bet. Hotel prices will rise in cities like Los Angeles, but they won’t be like the $1,600 a night in Russia. Also, with the spread-out nature of the tournament, spacing out fans is an easier way to avoid violence and safety concerns.
The awarding of the 2026 World Cup will be the first big test for new FIFA president Gianni Infantino. The Italian will have a big choice on his hands. He will either chose the U.S. and do the right thing for the sport, its fans and its players. Or he will choose Morocco, and continue the reckless path that FIFA has created for the past 12 years.