"ohmygod ohmygod ohmygod ohmygod ohmygod ohmygod ohmygod ohmygod ohmygod" pic.twitter.com/rWWEZ0T1W3
— Paul Bronks (@BoringEnormous) June 7, 2018
World Cup 2018 is set to begin, and I hope to Murphy the Trickster God that some front pager who actually understands “the beautiful sport” will keep us all current. Meanwhile, its ruling body FIFA is voting to decide which country will host the 2026 Cup… and relationship status is complicated. Here’s the NYTimes liveblog:
MOSCOW — FIFA is holding its annual congress on Wednesday. The biggest item on the agenda is the vote to award the hosting rights to the 2026 World Cup. There are only two announced candidates: a combined North American bid from the United States, Mexico and Canada, and a solo offering from Morocco.
How to watch: The FIFA vote is being streamed live on FIFA.com. The FIFA Congress began just after 9 a.m. local time (2 a.m. Eastern). Fox Sports will begin programming at 6:30 a.m. Eastern. If you have beIN Sports, you can watch at 6 a.m….
The 2026 vote is the headliner, but FIFA has other matters on the agenda, too. There will be consideration of proposed changes to FIFA’s statutes, and the potential for the suspension or expulsion of members (Ghana’s soccer association, for example, is in the middle of a serious corruption crisis). FIFA will approve a budget — The Times got hold of those numbers yesterday — and plenty of arcane talk of rules and committee assignments…
Ken Bensinger, in the Washington Post, “If the U.S. doesn’t get the 2026 World Cup, blame Trump”:
… By almost any measure, “United 2026” should handily carry the day. FIFA’s own evaluations give that bid vastly superior marks, praising the North American nations’ infrastructure, finances and rule of law, while sharply questioning Morocco’s ability to host a complex event requiring construction of nine new stadiums and rehabilitation of five others, as well as billions of dollars in new airports, hotels and highways. Morocco’s cost estimates are suspect, and its projections of profits even more so, especially when held up against a proposal that would with little doubt produce the most lucrative World Cup in history.
About the only advantage that Morocco — a nation with a GDP slightly smaller than that of the state of Arizona — seems to have is that it’s on the same time zone as Western Europe, where television viewers would be able to watch World Cup matches in lucrative prime time.
That, and the fact that it’s not the United States…
FIFA bylaws strictly forbid any governmental interference or influence in its internal decisions, which in theory means that leaders such as French President Emmanuel Macron or German Chancellor Angela Merkel shouldn’t express their pique at Trump by putting pressure on the heads of their countries’ respective soccer associations. Indeed, after Trump tweeted in late April that it would be “a shame if countries that we always support were to lobby against the U.S. bid” and then followed up several days later with a speech containing a thinly veiled threat against African countries should they vote for Morocco, FIFA sternly warned the White House against inappropriate meddling that would violate its ethics code.
But the reality is that global soccer is a profoundly political institution, inexorably intertwined with the channels of power in countries where devotion to the sport everyone else calls “football” borders on religious fervor…
Lol the World Cup is going to go fine https://t.co/FLvwjFRH4i
— Miriam Elder (@MiriamElder) June 1, 2018