LONDON: David Beckham has thrown his weight behind North America’s bid to host the 2026 World Cup as the vote looms, saying the fans’ passion for football would make the event “very special”.
The US-Canada-Mexico joint bid is battling against Morocco for the right to stage the tournament, with FIFA members picking the winner at a vote in Moscow on June 13.
“A football competition as big as the World Cup deserves to be in great places and if the US, Canada and Mexico get that it will be very special,” said former LA Galaxy star Beckham in a video released by Major League Soccer.
The former England captain, who played for the Galaxy for six seasons and was awarded an MLS franchise in Miami earlier this year, said he had experienced the passion for the game in all three countries.
“I’ve been able to have played in one of these countries and I’ve been to the other two as well and also played in Canada for the Galaxy but I know the passion that runs through all three of those countries,” he said.
“Don’t get me started on the passion that runs through Mexico because the players that I’ve played against, I’ve played against them as a nation before and there’s not many nations that are as passionate as them.”
The former Manchester United and Real Madrid star said he attended matches the last time the United States hosted the event, in 1994, but that the game has grown enormously in recent years.
“I’ve seen how much the game has grown in the last 10 years and it’s incredible to have happened so fast and changed in so many different ways,” said Beckham.
“People are really getting behind the game now throughout the US and it’s great to see, it’s great to have been a part of. I’m excited about 2026 because if that really happens, if it does happen, I know for sure that as a fan I’ll be going to that World Cup.”
A long-awaited report from FIFA inspectors last week left the North American bid as the clear front-runner after giving it a rating of four out of a possible five according to its criteria.
Morocco, bidding to become only the second African nation to host the tournament, received only 2.7 out of five, but advanced to the Moscow vote despite red flags being raised over several critical components of the bid.
The 2026 World Cup will be the first to be expanded to 48 teams, posing a severe test for the hosts. — AFP
keywords: David Beckham, North America, 2026 World Cup, US-Canada-Mexico, FIFA