By Tim Stannard
World Cup coming to America and Spain coaching catastrophe
North America and the USA in particular are having a Sally Field “you like me, you really like me!” Oscars moment on Wednesday morning.
The 48-nation behemoth that is the 2026 World Cup will be taking place on this side of the planet after winning the right to host the best sporting competition in the world in eight years’ time.
So, it’s US Yay! Mexi-go! And Cana-dada! And commiserations to Morocco who are forever the bridesmaid and never the bride in terms of trying to bring a World Cup for North Africa. What was thought to be a fairly close poll amongst the individual members who voted – over 200 – ended up being a bit of a landslide for the United bid with 134 backing North America, 65 for Morocco and one opting to vote for none of the above – Iran. Notable traitors to the North American cause who will be getting the lumpiest mattresses in 2026 are Brazil, France, Turkey and Italy.
“We're ready to welcome players and fans to the greatest sporting event the world has ever seen!” was the happy tweet from USSF president, Carlos Cordeiro, after the new was announced in Moscow.
Remember to tune in for a special one-hour version of the XTRA at 12PM ET / 9AM PT for a look back at a historic day for North American soccer.
Spain sack World Cup coach two days before first game
Anyway. That was just one huge event taking place on Wednesday morning in a simultaneous news multi-tasking nightmare that had our Tancredi Palmeri simultaneously listening to a live feed of our wonderful beIN SPORTS coverage of the FIFA Congress and a press conference from the Spanish camp in Krasnodar.
In an attempt to steal’s America’s wind, Spain opted to sack their coach two days before the opening game against Portugal. As you do. The reason is the matter of the announcement of the now former Spanish manager, Julen Lopetegui, moving to Real Madrid after the World Cup is over.
Well, that did not go down at all well with his boss at the Spanish federation it seems with Luis Rubiales calling a press conference to announce the decision to part company with the man who lead Spain to Russia and plonked them there as one of the favorites. “We are obliged to make some decisions based on the way he acted and on our values," said Rubiales who was beset with questions on whether it was true that the players were pressuring to keep Lopetegui in his post.
Spain appoint World Cup coach two days before first game
Back again with Spain!
Not wanting to rest there, Spain also appointed the man who would now be leading them through a World Cup journey that is looking increasingly shorter by the hour. That out-of-a-frying-pan figure is Fernando Hierro, an existing part of the coaching set-up in Spain and an all-round legend of the game having been a center-back rock for both Real Madrid and his country.
The question remains now on whether this disruption will throw the whole Spanish squad into a funk or be a galvanizing force of football fury as Sergio Ramos has boomed across social media. One thing is for certain – the big winners out of this absolute mess is probably Real Madrid. The master manipulator of Florentino Perez gets his manager potentially a month earlier than it looked 24 hours earlier – and Lopetegui will remain untarnished by any kind of Spanish World Cup failure.
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