The result of November's U.S. presidential election could affect the chances of North America winning a bid to host the 2026 FIFA World Cup, U.S. Soccer Federation President Sunil Gulati said Tuesday.
"I think the world's perception of the U.S. is affected by who is in the White House, yes, so it has some bearing, sure," Gulati, who has been at the helm of the federation since 2006, told reporters in Chicago.
With Republican presumptive nominee Donald Trump’s calls to build a wall along the U.S.-Mexican border, relations between the two countries would almost certainly be strained ahead of a possible joint bid to host the global soccer tournament.
Trump’s presumed opponent in the general election, Democrat Hillary Clinton, has taken a far more inclusive and moderate stance on immigration on the campaign trail.
“I think a co-hosted World Cup with Mexico would be trickier if Secretary Clinton isn’t in the White House," Gulati said.
The host for the 2026 World Cup will be decided in 2020.
Gulati would not rule out a joint bid with Canada. The U.S. last hosted the men's World Cup in 1994, while Mexico hosted in 1970 and 1986. Canada has never hosted a men's World Cup, but received strong attendance and positive reviews for the 2007 FIFA under-20 World Cup.
The U.S. hosted the women's World Cup in 1999 and 2003, while Canada hosted the women's World Cup last year. Mexico has never hosted the women's World Cup.
The U.S. finished second to host the 2022 men's World Cup, losing out to controversial winner Qatar in December 2010.