2026 World Cup May Heal Tensions Between Canada, Mexico, U.S.

By Rodrigo Cervantes
Published: Thursday, June 14, 2018 - 4:54pm
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Nancy Pelosi/ Wiki Media Commons
Arturo Sarukhan, then Mexican Ambassador in the U.S., at the 2009 Cinco de Mayo Reception in the Capitol with Nancy Pelosi.

MEXICO CITY- Canada, Mexico and the U.S. will co-host the United 2026 World Cup. And for one of the masterminds behind it, the soccer tournament’s biggest score might be creating a better collaboration among the three nations.

Arturo Sarukhán is Mexico’s former ambassador in the United States. He envisioned a bilateral World Cup in 2011 and discussed the idea with President Barack Obama.

Canada was added to the winning bid, but now “the relationship sadly has changed profoundly,” Sarukhán said.

However, he did say United 2026 could help heal some tensions.

“Particularly soccer, but sports in general, is a huge social connector,” the former ambassador stated.

And this may happen, even amid the current renegotiation of NAFTA, the region’s free trade agreement.

“I don’t think the North American bid is going to have any impact on moving the needle on the NAFTA negotiations, what it will have an impact on is that North America is gonna have to do some hard work re-thinking what our borders look like,” Sarukhán said.

He said the World Cup is an opportunity to improve transborder connectivity, re-shape labor programs and modernize airports, roads and railways, while boosting trade. He sees a unique opportunity brought by the World Cup to make Mexico and the U.S. get closer, particularly considering the largest number of Mexicans living in the U.S., and of Americans in Mexico.

“It can send a very powerful message to the rest of the world on to what North America is, and it can serve as a reminder to the people of Canada, the U.S. and Mexico on why we depend on each other’s success,” said Saruhkán.

He said that the existing stadium infrastructure among the three nations helped them win the World Cup bid, but more should be done on other transborder issues to show that “more things unite us than divide us in North America.”