Diego Maradona on 2026 World Cup: 'There's no passion' in North America

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Diego Maradona believes North America is unfit to host the men’s 2026 World Cup for a number of reasons. (Capital)
Diego Maradona believes North America is unfit to host the men’s 2026 World Cup for a number of reasons. (Capital)

FIFA announced Wednesday that the men’s 2026 World Cup rights have been awarded to the United States, Canada and Mexico, and the news is drawing mixed reactions.

In the strongly negative camp is Argentinian soccer legend Diego Maradona, who laments the lack of a true soccer culture in North America, and specifically, Mexico’s lack of success in the history of the World Cup.

“I don’t like it,” Maradona told Telesur. “Mexico doesn’t deserve it. The Mexicans come up against Brazil or Germany… and ‘boom,’ they’re out.”

The Mexican team, ‘El Tri,’ was eliminated in the round of 16 in the last six straight tournaments. The US and Canada failed to qualify for the 2018 tournament, but Mexico will have a chance to improve its record. 

Maradona also noted the lack of care for soccer in North America. He pointed out that before the 1994 World Cup, the US proposed splitting games into four quarters to allow for more air-time for commercials.

“There’s no passion,” Maradona said. “The Canadians may be good skiers, and the Americans wanted to have four periods of 25 [minutes] for the advertising.”

Of course, Maradona does have playing experience in one of the 2026 host cities: He won the 1986 World Cup with Argentina in Mexico, so he speaks from a position of actual experience that most cannot dispute.

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