President Trump's comments and tweets about North America's bid to host the 2026 World Cup might not hurt the bid, but they might not help either.
That's the consensus from an Inquirer and Daily News survey of journalists, academics and soccer influencers around the world who weighed in on the Trump effect for next month's vote, which will be held in Moscow on June 13. This year's World Cup in Russia starts the next day.
The North American bid is competing with Morocco. On the surface, it shouldn't be much of a competition. North America has all the stadiums, hotels, airports and other infrastructure needed to satisfy the world, from fans to FIFA big shots. A tournament here would generate billions of dollars in revenue, shattering records for ticket sales and sponsorship.
Trump has publicly supported the bid. Last month, he tweeted: "The U.S. has put together a STRONG bid w/ Canada & Mexico for the 2026 World Cup. It would be a shame if countries that we always support were to lobby against the U.S. bid."
He also told reporters during a meeting with Nigeria's prime minister: "I hope all African countries and countries throughout the world … will likewise support us in our bid."
Then he added: "We will be watching very closely, and any help they could give us in that bid we would appreciate."
No matter how hard one tries, it's often impossible to keep politics out of sports. It's especially true in soccer. Will it happen in the World Cup vote? We'll find out soon.
This survey intentionally omitted anyone involved in the bid. As such, some well-known figures who might otherwise have been asked were not. But many big names did participate. Here's what they had to say.