U.S. Soccer president Sunil Gulati explained the decision to have the United States, Canada and Mexico submit a joint bid to host the 2026 World Cup, calling it "a hugely positive signal and symbol of what we can do together in unifying people."
Gulati was joined by Canadian Soccer Association president Victor Montagliani and Federacion Mexicana de Futbol president Decio de Maria on Monday at One World Trade Center to announce the bid.
Although Gulati made the case that any of the nations could have individually hosted the expanded 48-team tournament, the FIFA council member laid out the rationale for setting the stage for the first World Cup to be hosted by three countries.
"It makes our bid stronger, in terms of the 209 members that eventually decide," Gulati said. "There's a pragmatic part of it, and that's the pragmatic part. We clearly between the three countries have 40, 50 stadiums that meet FIFA's qualifications and criteria, as well as cities and hotels and air.
"The other part of it is we think it's terrific for football in the region and soccer in region, both for Canada, Mexico and the U.S., given the close relationships we have already."
The proposal, which would see the U.S. host 60 matches while Mexico and Canada take on 10 games each, comes amid political tension in the region. Although Gulati noted Donald Trump was "especially pleased" to see Mexico included in the bid, the U.S. president's harsh rhetoric regarding illegal immigrants and pledge to build a wall along the southern border still loom large.
"We think in this interesting world in which we live and the place we're holding this particular press conference and the Statue of Liberty outside, and a whole bunch of things along those lines, from a social perspective it's a positive," Gulati said.
"We don't believe that sport can solve all of the issues of the world, but especially with what's going on in the world today, we think this is a hugely positive signal and symbol of what we can do together in unifying people, especially in our three countries."