Broad public support for North American World Cup bid, poll finds

(Reuters) - More than three-quarters of North American residents polled in a survey broadly support plans to host the 2026 World Cup, U.S. Soccer announced on Tuesday.

FILE PHOTO - The logo of FIFA is seen in front of its headquarters in Zurich, Switzerland September 26, 2017. REUTERS/Arnd Wiegmann

The Ipsos survey polled 1,000 residents in each of the United States, Mexico and Canada.

The three countries are planning a joint bid for the 2026 World Cup, which will be the first to include 48 teams. The U.S. is slated to host the majority of matches.

“One of main findings is really strong support people have to the idea of North America hosting (the World Cup),” Ipsos spokesman Chris Jackson said in a conference call.

“There is no real opposition to speak of.”

Jackson said there was 83 percent support for the bid in Mexico, 76 percent in Canada and 74 percent in the U.S.

U.S. residents were mostly interested in potential economic benefits, while Mexicans and Canadians were more focused on promoting the image of their respective countries. Canadians were also in favour of growing the game.

Respondents particularly liked that the event would need minimal new infrastructure.

“Our focus continues to be on working with our 32 host city candidates to present the most compelling, thorough and forward-looking proposal to FIFA,” John Kristick, executive director of the United Bid Committee said in a statement.

“One of the strengths of our hosting concept is that we have ready-made stadiums and infrastructure prepared to stage the first 48-team FIFA World Cup.”

Kristick added during the conference call that the final number of cities to host matches would be whittled down to around 12-to-16.

He also said that the possible ousting of Sunil Gulati as U.S. Soccer Federation president early next year would have no effect on the bid.

Gulati is head of the United Bid committee.

His position at U.S. Soccer is under threat following the country’s shocking failure to qualify for the 2018 World Cup in Russia.

A final decision on the host nation(s) will be taken by the FIFA Congress in Moscow next June.

Morocco is also bidding to host the 2026 World Cup.

Reporting by Andrew Both in Cary, North Carolina; Editing by Christian Radnedge