United bid co-chairs on 60-10-10 game allocation: FIFA could change it, but they’re confident it will stay where it is By Steven Sandor Posted on March 19, 2018 0 0 705 Share on Facebook Share on Twitter PHOTO: CANADA SOCCER/ANDREW SOONG The United World Cup bid’s split of games is still open for discussion, even though the people at the top of the effort feel confident that their proposed schedule won’t change. The three co-chairs of the United bid, Canada Soccer president Steven Reed, USSF president Carlos Cordeiro and Mexican Football Federation president Decio De Maria, were all part of a teleconference from Malaysia, where they are meeting with Asian federations. The United bid book for the 2026 tournament was delivered to FIFA offices in Switzerland last week. There are 23 potential host cities identified in the books, 17 of them in the United States. Of the 80 games in the 2026 World Cup, the bid calls for 60 to be played in the U.S., with 10 each in Canada and Mexico. Edmonton, Toronto and Montreal are the three Canadian candidate cities. When asked if there has been any pressure to change the 60-10-10 split of games, Cordeiro said “We’re not anticipating FIFA will make any change to the proposal.” But that’s the thing. Cordeiro said that, in the end, final say goes to FIFA. So, in the end, if the United bid defeats the Moroccan bid in about 90 days’ time, FIFA will sit down after the fact and whittle down the number of host cities from 23 to 16. And, then, it’s FIFA’s call to determine which of those cities get how many games. So, while the bidders are confident that there won’t be changes made, by no means is 60-10-10 written in stone, either. “If we had tried to bid on our own, it was clear we would not be able to do it,” Reed said. “It’s a huge undertaking for any single country, even the United States… The split of matches reflect the resources of the three countries.” Cordeiro said. De Maria said that people need to look at where the host cities sit in the region as a whole, not by the borders. He said, for Mexicans living in the north of the country, it will possibly be easier to get to games in the southern U.S. than to the games in Mexico. Toronto and Montreal are close to the U.S. border and easy for Americans in the midwest and northeast to access. Same can be said for games in Seattle, as those in Vancouver who might be miffed the city is out of the World Cup running can still make a Cascadia run to see matches. (Of course, this is all subject to which cities make the final 16.) The three were clearly trying to project their talking points in the press conference, going back to the unity, certainty and economic opportunity themes at every chance. When Reed was asked about the British Columbia government’s decision not to support Vancouver going forward as a World Cup city, he said he wouldn’t comment on specifics, but said “we’re still really excited about the Canadian host cities that we have.” Later, when pressed on it (because Reed is a Vancouverite), he said “I’m disappointed that it’s my backyard and I’ve lived there most of my life.” When asked if the policies of Donald Trump and the international perception of the United States is hurting the bid, Cordeiro said: “This is not geopolitics, we’re talking about football.” He said: “We believe strongly that this decision will be made on its merits.” When asked if the new, one federation, one vote system makes things more difficult for bidding nations (it gives an inordinate amount of voting power to Asia and Africa, because of the large number of federations in those continents), Cordeiro said: “It’s anything but chaotic. We’re moving around the the globe in a methodical, almost clinical way.” He said the United bid is reporting all of its activities to FIFA, that transparency is key. But, since there were so many cliches at this presser, maybe we’ll save the best one for last: Cordeiro was asked if the United bid was concerned about the Morocco bid. “We’re trying to focus on our bid, not theirs.” We’re sure we’re giving this bid 110 per cent, right? Taking the bid one day at a time?