Los Angeles (AFP) – The joint Canada-Mexico-US bid for the 2026 World Cup announced a reshuffle of its leadership on Tuesday, emphasising diversity as they seek to woo voters at a key FIFA vote in just over three months’ time.
A statement on the “United 2026” bid website said the leaders of the US, Canada and Mexico federations would now serve as co-chairs of the bid, replacing former United States Soccer Federation chief Sunil Gulati, who steps down.
United 2026 said the changes reflect the “unity” at the highest levels of the joint bid, which faces only one other rival — Morocco — for the right to host the tournament.
The co-chairmen are newly elected USSF president Carlos Cordeiro, Canada Soccer Association president Steve Reed and Mexican Football Federation chief Decio de Maria.
“As the three co-chairs of our United Bid, we are proud to represent the shared commitment of the people of Canada, Mexico, and the United States to hosting the first ever 48-team FIFA World Cup with unity and unparalleled stability and certainty,” the trio said.
Gulati, who stepped down as USSF chief in February, had initially been expected to remain as chairman of the 2026 bid.
The change in leadership is an apparent strategic move to shift the perception of the bid from the three CONCACAF nations as a largely American enterprise.
The United States will host 60 of the tournament’s matches, with Canada and Mexico hosting 10 games each. The United States will host all knockout games from the quarter-finals onwards.
Although the Canada-Mexico-US bid has long been regarded as the front-runner to land the expanded World Cup, anxiety has flickered over the possibility that comments from US President Donald Trump could hurt the bid.
Trump triggered an outcry in January after referring to “shithole countries” when discussing a deal which related to immigrants from Haiti and several African nations.
African votes will account for a substantial bloc in the June 13 election in Moscow which will decide the 2026 hosts.
Fears of a possible backlash against the 2026 joint bid have also been raised by the fact that it was a US-led law enforcement investigation which exposed systemic corruption in FIFA in 2015.