Chicago, Minneapolis, Vancouver drop out of World Cup bid rather than grant FIFA a decade-long tax exemption

The leading candidate to host the 2026 World Cup has been a joint U.S./Canada/Mexico bid that would see the tournament take place across a long list of cities. And I put that in the present perfect progressive tense because what seemed a shoo-in looks a bit shakier now that Chicago, Minneapolis, and Vancouver have all removed themselves from the bid, on the grounds that FIFA’s demands for tax breaks and other concessions were just too much:

theBreaker has obtained a copy of FIFA’s requirements for governments bidding for 2026. The Swiss-based organization, still reeling from the FBI’s 2015 crackdown on FIFA’s massive bribery and kickbacks, requires host governments agree to grant it huge tax breaks for an entire decade and allow it to import and export unlimited amounts of foreign currency. FIFA also requires host taxpayers pick up the full bill for safety and security and assume liability should there be any security incident of any size…

For its workforce, FIFA wants a visa-free environment where work permits are issued “unconditionally and without any restriction or discrimination of any kind.”

“It is also requested to grant exemptions from labour law and other legislation for companies and personnel directly involved with the competition, provided that these exemptions do not undermine or compromise the government’s commitment to respecting, protecting and fulfilling human rights.”

That is a lot! And it was apparently a take-it-or-leave-it deal: British Columbia tourism minister Lisa Beare explained that her government withdrew from the bid because “there was no interest by FIFA to negotiate or address our concerns, and that the costs still remain unknown”; Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel said that “FIFA could not provide a basic level of certainty on some major unknowns that put our city and taxpayers at risk”; and the Minneapolis bid committee issued a statement that “the inability to negotiate the terms of the various bid agreements did not provide our partners and our community with sufficient protections from future liability and unforeseen changes in commitments.”

The North American bid is still moving ahead with 23 locations — Edmonton, Montreal, and Toronto in Canada; Guadalajara, Mexico City, and Monterrey in Mexico; and Atlanta, Baltimore, Boston, Cincinnati, Dallas, Denver, Houston, Kansas City, Los Angeles, Miami, Nashville, New York/New Jersey, Orlando, Philadelphia, San Francisco Bay Area, Seattle. and Washington in the U.S. — all of which apparently agreed to FIFA’s terms. But it’s still an unexpected hiccup in FIFA’s plans, and shows that at least some governments are willing to turn down a major sporting event if it requires handing over tens of millions of dollars in tax revenues and untold security costs along the way.


13 comments on “Chicago, Minneapolis, Vancouver drop out of World Cup bid rather than grant FIFA a decade-long tax exemption

  1. To update, the Alberta provincial government wants no part of the deal either, which may mean Edmonton is out as well

  2. Both Alberta and BC are NDP governments, and would have a really hard time explaining the labour law exemptions to their membership.

    Their Ontario cousins made a similar good move in the baseball strike by making clear their anti-scab legislation applied to baseball.

    The NDP are perpetually disappointing, like any social democratic party, but they can move the needle just enough sometimes.

  3. I was watching a soccer videocast past night that pointed out theBreaker did not get some big time scoop. The rules apparently were posted on FIFA’s website.

    The trination bid is better from an overall point of view than Morocco. This will be the first World Cup with 48 teams, so you need more cities, more hotels, more stadiums and more infrastructure. No new stadiums would need to be build for the US – Canada – Mexico bid — it relies completely on stadiums that already exist. And given university athletic facilities you probably do not have to build any training facilities either.

    And maybe that is the issue. Economically the trination bid makes sense for FIFA and the sport. Cheaper to prepare, already existing facilities, hotels, two countries (US and Canada) that while not soccer crazy have shown they are able support the sport and are economic powerhouses, and a third which not as prosperous, is fanatical about the sport with a well developed tourism industry.

    Morocco though requires lots of building. That means lots of development money, a good portion of which may end up in the pockets of FIFA grandees and their favorites.

    Much as I would like to see the World Cup here again, I do not want it on those terms.

  4. Luckily for the bid’s organizers, there are still more than enough cities in running that a scenario like the Paris/LA Olympic fiasco will (probably) be avoided.

    It’s interesting that Orlando is still on the shortlist, despite having one of the worst stadium situations out of all the remaining cities. Then again, where other cities see organizations like FIFA as unwieldly operations that demand so much without giving back much (if anything) in return, the people who “run” this town tend to see them as exalted benefactors who must be appeased at all costs…

    • “…Paris/LA Olympic fiasco..”

      Fiasco? Seems to me like it worked out relatively well, unless you have some affinity for cities spending $mega-billions instead of merely $billions.

      • It was a fiasco if you were hoping for big bribes not just little ones. And the fact that LA has little big construction to do specifically for the Olympics.

  5. Convince me that every FIFA employee shouldn’t be tied up and thrown into an active volcano. Just kidding… you can’t.

  6. It is likely that FIFA is ‘talking up’ the Morocco bid as a stalking horse of sorts. I suspect they would really rather not go to Morocco (for some of the reasons mentioned above, and also because only four WC will have passed since the last/first African World Cup). However, they will go there if the option is no/limited bribes in North America.

    They have done this before, of course, cajoling what would seem like an unlikely bidder into believing they are the favourite if “only you just…piled a little more cash on the table…. that’s it. good. yes. keep going. not quite there yet…. we’ll let you know when it’s enough… oo, it’s happy hour. Let’s meet back here tomorrow morning at 8 and you can continue stacking cash in front of us…”

    The positive side of this story is there appear to be few other hosting options on the table. Now that we have our own corrupt oligarch in power like some of the eastern european countries we love to criticize, I’d say it’s anybody’s ball game really.

    It would not surprise me if a new, incredibly wealthy and horrifically corrupt government of a small eastern European country made a late bid. It would not surprise me if the combined North American bid is rejigged to include more host cities/districts that welcome payola and corruption (we aren’t short of them, let’s be honest).

    It would surprise me if Morocco was the eventual winner…. but I have been surprised before. For FIFA and the IOC, it’s really all about the money. Evidence suggests both groups have been openly on the take since the early 1970s at least. Ms. Lynch demonstrated evidence of this back to 2004 (remind me where the 2002 winter and 1996 summer games were held? Whew, that was close. Good thing she didn’t go back a little further…)

    We will have evidence of real progress on the corrupt bidding process/issue when both the IOC and FIFA not only have no-one bidding for their events, but are unable to generate host interest even when THEY are out beating the bushes for sites. The cart overtook the horse some years ago with these groups.

    The ideal response from all governments would be:
    “Yes, you can host your tournament here. But here are the rules you will have to abide by, and this is how much we will charge you for hosting the event”.

    • I think there is one other issue with the US and that is the fear that certain Of the world soccer leadership might find itself atlrrested if they enter the US or Canada. In 2915 Sepp Blatter stayed away from the Women’s World Cup final and the rumor was his concern of ending up in a Canadian jail waiting extradition to the US.

  7. What would FIFA gain from a 10-year local tax break like that? Do they have an ongoing presence that long before or after the World Cup? And is the unlimited importing and exporting of currency so they can benefit from favorable exchange rates?

  8. No Las Vegas? Is the Raiders stadium not going to be done by then? For all the money being sunk into that place, one would think they would try to get in on every possible big event.

  9. Present perfect progressive tense? The form “has been” is not in the present perfect progressive. There’s nothing progressive there; it’s just the ordinary present perfect.

    A progressive tense has a present participle; so to get the present perfect progressive tense of “to be”, you’d need the present participle “being”, to create the elaborate form “has been being”.

    That rare construction could conceivably occur in a circumstance where the verb “to be” were serving not as a linking verb but as a quasi-action verb with the meaning “to behave” (“He has been being good lately”) or “to exist”. But the result would always feel tortured.

    So there is virtually no call for “to be” in the present perfect progressive tense. Other verbs, sure: “I have been working here for ten years”; “This has been bothering me for some time”. But not “to be”.

    Once again, what you’ve got there is the present perfect tense.