USA vs. Mexico: This Time It's for Keeps

The USSF is headed for the ultimate showdown with El Tri in a contest which will make Dos a Cero I, Dos a Cero II, Dos a Cero III and all the other Dos a Cero's past and future look like nursery school Play Doh Fights.

With the Gala FIFA Bribe-a-Palooza set to kick off next Thursday, Zurich's finest hookers, Five Star Hotels and obscenely expensive dining establishments are busily preparing for the onslaught of  footballing representatives from around the world all eager to enjoy a round of ludicrously excessive drunken celebration, courtesy of Sepp Blatter, The Man Who Always Picks Up the Check.

We'll address the lockdown-certainty of Blatter's re-election another time, not that there's a whole bunch to say. Except for the adidas bagman slipping envelopes full of money under hotel room doors, not much has really changed since Seppy took down UEFA's Lennart Johannsen in 1998.

Now, the money gets handed out more or less openly in the form of GOAL grants which go to buy useless plots of dirt from companies owned by federation Presidents who then use up the balance in "office expenses" while the dirt stays brown and the team keeps holding practice in a public park.

FIFA of course doesn't allow actual unscripted news to happen at these events, and that's OK because most of the assemblage is much too drunk to notice or care anyway. Which helps explain how Jack Warner was once able to have a comely young woman - the escort of a Caribbean delegate - take the seat of and vote in place of the Haitian FA President (an elderly black gentleman) who missed his plane.

(Despite not actually speaking French, she carefully voted "Oui" when the time came. To this day, FIFA's vaunted ethics process has not taken notice.)

That aside, and absent the late substitution of a hot young Lady of the Evening for the British delegate, the relevant piece of business for us this time around will be the approval of the bidding process for World Cup 2026, which will set off what is certain to be a bitterly contested steel cage match which won't be held in either the Azteca or Mapfre (nee Crew) Stadium.

CONCACAF President Jeff Webb has made it extremely clear that it's our turn and if Sepp doesn't make certain the outcome reflects this reality then the Grand Poobah of football can expect a bumpy road going forward.

And as a close ally and pal of Jack Warner's, he knows where a whole lot of bodies are buried.

His logic is, of course, undeniable: in 2026 it will be 32 years since USA 94. the last CONCACAF World Cup. Every confederation on Earth will have hosted one since then, and considering the shameless open hosing the US got during the last vote, he's just not in a giving mood.

Which nicely mirrors the opinion of USSF President Sunil Gulati, whose only comment thus far has been that he isn't going to waste his time and our money on another World Cup bid (the required bid book alone reportedly cost $4 million) until he sees some assurance that the result isn't based on who passes out the biggest and best bribes.

And since in 2012 the FIFA Technical Inspection team gave the US the highest rating (94/100) it had ever given anyone and the Qatar bid a rating (42/100) lower than anyone thought was even possible, it's hard to argue with his point. Why bother putting on a Kabuke Theater of a bid as cover for a hopelessly corrupt process?

Furthermore, FIFA as a whole, an outfit which as we all know has literally no shame at all, nonetheless has the good sense to be embarrassed by what happened - and is happening - with Qatar and everybody from Sepp on down is anxious to rehabilitate their image in that regard.

(The latest outrage occurred just last week when Qatar invited a BBC team to come to their desert paradise to see the wonderful new residence complex they built for some of foreign workers they've been abusing. The Beeb guys apparently wandered off to interview a couple workers who were not approved for interviewing and then filmed some stuff that Qatar didn't want them filming and the police arrested them. After a couple nights in jail and with even FIFA screaming bloody murder over it, Qatar put the crew on a plane back to Old Blighty.

But they kept their cameras, laptops and hard drives. For "further investigation". They've now been returned, wiped clean. And the beat goes on.)

Anyway, Webb has been saying all along that CONCACAF and the US is owed the 2026 World Cup, and pointedly noting that the US could in fact host a World Cup with "30 days notice".

It's not like we need to build some airports.

But everyone was a bit surprised when Mexican Federation (FMF) President Justino Compeán announced that his country would be bidding as well.

(Conversely, no one was surprised that Imbecilic Canadian FA head Victor Montagliani announced that they want it as well. He feels that the current artificial surface Womens World Cup will "prove"that Canada is "ready" to hold a men's tournament as well.

This Galactic-level stupidity is not worth commenting on, for so many reasons that one wouldn't know where to start.)

Webb has since backtracked a little on the US, saying that Mexico too would be a fine location, but even he isn't commenting on Canada, probably because it would require a straight face.

The only other likely bidder is Morocco, which is a joke, considering the Africa Cup of Nations debacle from just a few months ago.

Briefly, on the off chance that you don't follow CAF events closely, Morocco won the bid to host the 2015 tournament and then demanded that it be postponed so that they could keep West African ebola victims out of the country.

The CAF was furious, moved the thing to Equitorial Guinea, banned Morocco from the next two tournaments and fined them $10 million. It's all being sorted out by the Court for Sports Arbitration but Morocco has zero chance of getting a World Cup. Zip, zero, nada.

So it looks a lot like it's going to boil down to the US or Mexico.

Now as we all know, Compeán and the FMF were pretty angry that Sunil Gulati came out of nowhere to win the FIFA Executive Committee seat for North America.

Everybody assumed that resentment over Chuck Blazer's role in the downfall of Jack Warner would rub off on fellow American Gulati and, in any case, Mexico feels that Warner and Blazer effectively "stole" the confederation from them and they think it's only right that they get some of the goodies that the previous regime Bogarted for the US and Caribbean.

It was therefore quite a shock - to pretty much everyone but Compeán in particular - when Gulati proved to be a highly adept backroom politician and won the coveted ExCo job by one vote.

So now Mexico wants to grab 2026, the Cup that everybody the world over concedes that FIFA "owes" the US.

Hovering over all of it may be the thinly veiled threat from Mexico that if they don't start getting some of what they feel they're due they'll hike up and try to join the South American Confederation, CONMEBOL.

This threat was in fact the main reason Australia had difficulty getting FIFA's permission to move to the Asian Confederation (AFC) in 2005. The ExCo figured that if they let the Aussies go they'd have no excuse not to let Mexico do the same.

Ironically, the AFC is now trying to toss Australia out and make them go back to Oceania. The Socceroos have this ugly habit of winning Asian Cups and, most distressingly, qualifying for the World Cup, taking the place of teams which aren't amde up of, to put it bluntly, English speaking white guys.

Whether or not there's a real danger of Mexico giving up their near-certain WC qualifying slot in order to go compete against the likes of Argentina and Brazil, there's no telling what could happen if they feel that CONCACAF isn't behind them.

Webb will try to play it down the middle. If he can. Maybe he'll just say to hell with it and back Canada.

Either way, the whistle is about to blow on a grudge match for the ages. The US and Mexico both feel that football owes them something and neither one of them is going to be very happy about losing to the other.

Fortunately, the new voting procedure means that all 209 FIFA nations will eventually end up choosing the host nation, a decision which in most cases will boil down to a) where will FIFA make the most money and b) where would the individual federation officials rather go for a month long expense paid luxury vacation.

It says here: advantage Gulati.