U.S. travel ban won't harm 2026 World Cup bid - CONCACAF president
MILLBRAE, Calif. -- CONCACAF president Victor Montagliani said that the immigration and travel policies specified by the administration of U.S. President Donald Trump are something that the confederation will "just have to work through" as it relates to the U.S. bidding to host the 2026 World Cup.
The Trump Administration released a revised executive order on Monday, one that bars new visas from six Muslim majority countries, and temporarily shuts down the U.S. refugee program.
FIFA is preparing the rules for bidding on the 2026 World Cup, and will determine the host in 2020. The U.S. Soccer Federation has yet to formally declare its intentions, but it's widely expected to be a candidate to host the tournament, either as part of a joint bid with other CONCACAF countries, or on its own.
As for the U.S. government's recent change in immigration policy, Montagliani said he wasn't concerned.
"I don't think you can worry about those kind of things in the context of ," said Montagliani in an exclusive interview with ESPN FC. "Leaders will come and go, policies will come and go. And to be quite frank, every country has immigration policies, and every country has the right to have those immigration policies.
"When an event is put on in any country in the world, whether it's an Olympic Games or a World Cup, those are things that you need to be taking into consideration when you have a whole bunch of people coming.
"The No. 1 priority is the teams obviously and the players. Then after that it's the fans and the safety of the fans. Those are things that you just have to work through and I think we'll be willing to work through them."
FIFA president Gianni Infantino on Thursday said that a U.S. travel ban could affect the U.S.'s chances at the 2026 bid.
"Any team, including the supporters and officials ... who qualify for a World Cup need to have access to the country, otherwise there is no World Cup. That is obvious," Infantino said.
A CONCACAF country hasn't hosted a World Cup since the U.S. did back in 1994. The U.S. is currently one of the few countries capable of hosting the tournament on its own, but FIFA is encouraging applications to co-host the tournament. That could pave the way for a joint bid involving the U.S., Mexico, and Canada, and Montagliani feels there are some advantages to having three countries join forces.
"You could also make a case that by having three countries, especially the three countries we're speaking about in North America, it has some compelling storylines there," he said. "The football economics in North America is shared quite a bit. Mexico is pretty influential in the U.S.; the U.S. is pretty influential in Canada.
"We have three leagues that the U.S. and Canada shares. We have a women's league that we share together. So it's pretty intriguing possibilities, so I think it behooves us to look at that opportunity."
That said, Montagliani indicated he had no preference in terms of single or joint bids.
"I want it in CONCACAF at the end of the day. That's the preference," he said. "As a CONCACAF president, the more countries that are involved in it, the better off it is, so from that perspective absolutely. But at the end of the day it's important to get it here."
Jeff Carlisle covers MLS and the U.S. national team for ESPN FC. Follow him on Twitter @JeffreyCarlisle.