14th June 2018, 08:45 | steve_mascord

WE GOT ISSUES: Has FIFA done Rugby League a favour?

WE GOT ISSUES: Has FIFA done Rugby League a favour?

By Steve Mascord

Soccer, football, Association Football, whatever you want to call it - it’s not something you would expect to read about in this column.

But last night its world governing body, FIFA, made an announcement that might just be the best news rugby league has had all year - perhaps longer.

The 2026 Fifa World Cup will be hosted by the United States, Canada and Mexico. Now, you know where our World Cup is going to be in 2025, don’t you? That’s right - the United States and Canada!

Why is this such good news? 

Well, in fairness there are a few possible negatives. If RLWC2025 promoter Jason Moore is looking for blue chip sponsors and wall-to-wall media coverage, things just got a fair bit harder. The round ball game will suck up a lot of oxygen and even more moolah. The best he can hope for is to be viewed as the entree ... actually, make that appetizer.

But there should be enough overwhelming positives to more than compensate.

For one, there has to be a focus on rectangular stadia across the continent. Facilities will be improved, civic authorities everywhere will be switched on to bidding for events and big infrastructures will be built around this process. 

Not every; 'bid team' will get the chance to host one of their World Cup games.

On one hand, a rugby league World Cup game would be a nice fillip for a market that can’t get one the following year. Leaders can almost make their constituents feel like they’re part of the party, even though they’re not.

On the other hand, what a perfect test event for the megadomes in the giant metropolises! Everything from security, accommodation, traffic, media, sponsorship, advertising and promotion can be given a trial run during our tournament.

Hey, maybe we can add Mexico to our World Cup too, using the ‘test event’ opportunity as a carrot to cities south of the border. Our game is taking off there, too, you know.

The political implications within Rugby League are also positive. Given the discord over the Test next week in Denver, there are no doubt some lingering fears the 2025 World Cup won’t go to North America on some technicality.

We might be a parochial sport but can an official or administration really get away with frittering away a 12-month head start in the world’s most important sports market to a competitor - especially when rugby union might go there in 2028? 

Actually, don’t answer that.

The 2025 World Cup in America already shaped as the most important event in rugby league since 1907 All Golds. Now, its chances of being remembered that way by future generations have improved markedly.