World Cup 2026 bid director Kristick says current climate doesn't affect effort

John Kristick, the executive director of the United Bid Committee seeking the World Cup 2026, says he is concentrating on March 16, not Feb. 11.

The first date is the deadline for the joint American, Canadian and Mexican bid to be submitted to FIFA with all that entails -- local and national government guarantees and stadium agreements. The second is the final day of the U.S. Soccer AGM at which the organization will hold its presidential election.

That election was thrown into flux when the USA failed to qualify for the 2026 World Cup. U.S. Soccer president Sunil Gulati, who is also the UBC's chairman and driving force of the 2026 bid, has not yet announced whether he'll seek a fourth and final term as president.

"I have 142 days to work with my colleagues in Canada and Mexico to meet the requirements that FIFA puts forward," Kristick said on a conference call. "That's what we're focused on. That being said, Sunil [is] a wonderful supporter. He's chairman of the bid committee. He's done a tremendous amount over the course of his career to support the game's development, and we welcome the support he continues to give us on the bid."

Kristick said the USA's shock failure to qualify for the World Cup was something that he did not expect would impact the UBC bid against Morocco, the lone competitor.

“We know that sport comes in highs and lows," he said, "and this is something we have to look beyond."

Spread the wealth. There are 32 cities in the United States, Canada and Mexico in the mix at the moment. FIFA will ultimately consider 12-16 cities. With at least two cities each in Canada and Mexico, that means only 8-12 U.S. cities could end up being picked. Kristick would like more but says that's a FIFA decision.

"We believe across these three countries we can put together a fantastic set of venues," he said, "and we'd love to see higher number of venues as opposed to a smaller number so we can spread the wealth as far as we can. But that will be something that at the right time we'll go through the process with FIFA to determine that."

World Cup 2026: Bid committee reduces city list from 41 to 32

Spring rush. The bid effort will pick up steam next spring after the bid has been submitted to FIFA. FIFA's technical staff will need to do an inspection tour before it can make its recommendations, and the UBC leaders will need to make their case to the voters.

“At that time," he said, "you would see more of a natural shift where there would then be, based on the FIFA rules that are set out, more external outreach."

Instead of 24 executive committee members in 2010 when Qatar beat out the USA for the 2022 World Cup -- 22 members voted after two were banned on corruption charges -- FIFA's 211 members will vote at the Congress in Moscow next June on the eve of the World Cup.

Kristick, who has an extensive background in international soccer, was the managing director of the USA's 2022 bid seven years ago and has lived with the disappointment of that loss to Qatar.

'There weren’t many days that I didn’t spend thinking about it," he said.

Next story loading loading..

Discover Our Publications