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Soon: Voting Begins To Choose 2026 World Cup Host; Spain Sack National Coach On Eve Of World Cup; Trump-Kim Summit Proves Polarizing. Aired 6-7a ET

Aired June 13, 2018 - 06:00   ET


[06:00:09] BECKY ANDERSON, CNN ANCHOR: Hello, I'm Becky Anderson and you are watching a special edition of "Connect the World" live from Red Square

in Moscow, coming to you on a very special day for global football and fans across the world. That is because in just a short while we're going to

find out who will host the 2026 FIFA World Cup, a day ahead of the start of this year's tournament in Russia.

Now, the choice for 2026 is between a united bid from Mexico, the United States and Canada the North American power bid if you will, or Morocco a

North African country which should it win will mean World Cup will once again head back to Africa.

Now, this time around FIFA try to do things differently. Footballs leadership wants to show this is a new era, a more transparent era. So the

more than 200 national federations will vote openly and get this digitally for the first time, allowing us to know who is backing who. So a lot of

interesting topics to get into.

And I've got a fantastic panel here and across the world we are joined by World Sports Alex Tomas my colleague, Heath Pearce a former USA footballer

and a contributor for COPA90 turn apart, this is (ph) all things global football. And Paula Newton is there in Ottawa in Canada in anticipation of

the result of this vote.

Alex, it has been a surprisingly uncontroversial campaign this one, the bid -- the bidding nations just presenting in a lot -- last attempt to get

people to vote for them there campaign, your thoughts.

ALEX THOMAS, CNN WORLD SPORT: Yes, they're about the get the final pictures. It was been explained to the 210 FIFA members at that Congress

which is in the Moscow Expocentre about a 15 minute from here just outside Red Square where we are is how it's going to work.

A bit complicated, ultimately it's going to be, we think, 206 member associations voting and that means that one of the winning bids has to get

104 votes to get across that line and host the 2026 World Cup.

ANDERSON: A 104 is the magic number we'll be looking for. And we expect that vote in about a half hours time. As we anticipate that, talk to me

about what you know of the united vote. Just how important is footballs as well to the U.S., Canada or Mexico?

HEATH PEARCE, FORMER USA FOOTBALLER: I mean football is a massive thing in the U.S. and North America in general, obviously Canada has a huge

contingent, Mexico as well, a very passionate fan base. We've seen so much over the last 12 months between the three countries, but it's nice to see

and come together for united bid and I think it's going to be a pivotal moment if they were to win this for the future football in North America.

ANDERSON: What do you know about the Morocco bid?

THOMAS: Morocco are trying to sell themselves some of passion of their fans and also being a greener World Cup potentially. FIFA released a

technical report recently, that's for all those members to judge and there's a logical way as possible, of course they're all human beings at

the rest of us. There's going to be lot of got involved as well.

And on those specific technical categories, the united bid was better in everyone except the cost. So it will be a cheaper World Cup to the

organizers and to fans traveling there, in terms of making money, its united all the way.

ANDERSON: That's right. I mean technically safer one might say and financially more rewarding this United bid. For a tournament which will be

extended, let's remember that, a new look tournament in 2026.

THOMAS: Yes for the 18th World Cup for the first time. Here Russia 2018, there's going to be 32 nations competing. It's been a lot that since

France '98, and they were hoping actually for the next World Cup in Qatar as well to make it 48 times.

We already know how controversial the decision to send it to there was how tiny a country it is. It looks like 48 teams soon to bring in then, but

the 2026 host nation will have to accommodate that and that has counted against Morocco for sure. It has to build at least nine new stadiums

according to their bid book whereas the united bid, Mexico, Canada USA a mature sports market, they have old stadiums in place already, no need for

new infrastructure.

ANDERSON: Let's remind ourselves that FIFA will say it is all about the fans, it's about the passion of the game. These tournaments every four

years are a showcase for this organization which at the moment is a little bit under the weather so far as its finance is a concern given everything

that's being going on.

PEARCE: Yes, but when you look at even this World Cup for example, there's still a large North American contingency that's coming here that's

traveling, even with the U.S. out of the World Cup which is showing you what I think the passion of the fan base is and how loyal that fan base is

to the global game to celebration a global football.

THOMAS: Yes, behind Russia, USA had the most ticket sales, of course it doesn't mean just all Americans, they got so many other foreign nationals

living over there who are, as you say, just keen on the game.

ANDERSON: So I think it's important to point out and FIFA of being great to do this. This is a much more transparent process this time, explain


[06:05:03] THOMAS: The last time World Cup host were decided was 2010. That was I think 23 guys or what man in suits basically picking Russia 2018

and Qatar 2022 at the same time. The first time that was done, hugely controversial particularly the Qatar votes when countries like Australia

were going for it, U.S. were expected to get the vote then instead of Russia 2018.

This is the breakdown of votes currently. You can see why people want to try and court the European countries there, the biggest block then Africa

then Asia. But since then Becky, we've seen all the corruption allegations FIFA have gone through a complete change of leadership, a complete change

of structure. And Morocco said to us this week even if they lose, they'll congratulate the united bid, they'll have no qualms, it has been a

transparent process.

For start, we'll know how every association's going to vote, that's not happened before.

ANDERSON: It is important to point out that just ahead of this voting process. In fact if you're just joining us, we are waiting for the vote on

the 2026 World Cup that is eight years from now we are a day out from the beginning of the 2018 World Cup tournament. And ahead of this, the Russian

president has congratulated the footballing leadership for what he says is keeping politics out of sport.

Reno (ph), given that this tiny country as it were compared to the united bid of Morocco still has a chance, don't tell me that FIFA's kept politics

out of sport. Heath?

PEARCE: I mean, to be fair you don't know what's going on behind all. But to see the transparency now I think is the step forward for the game and to

see the celebration and this is for the fans.

And if it is truly for the fans, it should be a transparent process and we should all know every step of the way, what's going on and hopefully those

politics play a role on this, but naturally because of the world we're living and the access to information and how things move, people have

access to good information and bad information. I think that can certainly play a role.

ANDERSON: As we speak, the united bid coming on stage, the FIFA Congress to present its bids. So, we are probably about 15 or so minutes out from

the vote. And once again Alex as we pointed out at the beginning of this, this is a digital vote. We will find out almost immediately the result.

THOMAS: Yes, first time that's happened as well. And don't worry, they tested it in the beginning of the day. You imagine some of the older

delegates with due respects so they're pressuring (ph) around three options. They can also vote for none of the bids.


THOMAS: Don't expect that to happen here.

ANDERSON: What happens if that happens?

THOMAS: There's a chance for a second round of voting or even, actually both of the bids are being sort out and they have to start the whole

process again and vote for it later in the year.

ANDERSON: Let's hope that doesn't --

THOMAS: We'll know the special then Becky.

ANDERSON: We are in Moscow, it is a beautiful morning. And let's get you across to Ottawa in Canada where Paula Newton is standing by. Paula, just

how important is the result of these bids to Canada at this point?

PAULA NEWTON, CNN CORRESPONDENT: You can imagine Becky. I mean, in Canada we are littered with soccer moms and dads and yet we've only made one

appearance in the World Cup, that was in 1986 in Mexico and this won't really put soccer on the map here. A lot of people hanging on this bid,

and as an addition to that united bid Canada brings a lot of enthusiasm and also some very successful teams in the pro-North American league for


So I think the united bid felt that brining Canada in would be obviously helpful. Helpful to Canada here, we have wanted a team in the World Cup,

we still do not have one in this time.

One of the controversies that I'm sure Alex will elaborate on is the fact that if the united bid wins, usually the host country is supposed to get a

by. Well guess what, FIFA's hanging onto that and saying, look, not so fast. We don't know that Canada will actually get in Mexico and the United

States usually qualify and that leaves us the odd man out. So, that is a huge thing here too.

But I do want to point out Becky that, look, Canada hosted the Junior World Cup, we hosted the Women's World Cup. We're just incredibly successful in

2015, they broke some attendance records. And for that reason, they feel that Canada has helped bolster that bid.

One thing I wanted you to think about though is distance. Becky, think about Edmonton is in Alberta, it's very far north and think of Mexico City.

You are talking many hours on an airplane in a distance I think of 3000 miles or something like that. That is one of the things that's working

against the bid, but certainly Canada hoping to bring a lot of soccer -- football we'll call it, soccer enthusiasm to this bid.

ANDERSON: There are fears of course, recent disputes with Canada -- between Canada and the U.S., specifically between the leaders of those two

countries could -- just could undermine the collaboration between the two nations.

We are eight years out. They will likely be different leaders. Let's say (ph) they will be in the United States at that point, thoughts.

NEWTON: I think though if I could interject Becky, actually it hasn't -- honestly from the political point of view, I think as you guys have

discussed it's whether or not the voting actually hinges on Donald Trump who has thrown his support behind this. And that made actually do the bid

more firm and good unfortunately at this point at least in terms of what has led up to the voting.

[06:10:14] But in terms of professional sports and actually organizing sports, North America is already fully integrated. The United States and

Canada, we share so many teams, so many leagues. And so for that reason certainly the united bid will go off with no problem at all.

The problem here is trying to keep the politics out of it. And Becky, as you guys have already discussed, it is so important to football fans,

soccer fans in North America that they just try and keep the politics on the sidelines. Of course, incredibly naive, but they still want to see

that happen.

ANDERSON: Paula, pointing out that President Trump has already intervened by Twitter at least, but that's the way he does his stuff, right.

THOMAS: Well, we spoke to the four (ph) Minister of Youth and Sports Moncef Belkhayat yesterday, he's one of the Morocco bid committee members.

And he was happy to say very frankly Trump has been a factor, of course, the united bid have denied that. And we'll have to see else maybe (ph) it

has an impact on where it goes. It doesn't look like it will do, but there has been a factor.

The united bid if you look at all their documentation, they say look at the other way, flip it around. This is the perfect chance for these three

countries to improve relations. We're going to have to host the biggest single sports competition on the planet together. If that's not going to

help a little bit when it comes to having to reopen curtails at Thurlow (ph) they might have been close down, what will?

ANDERSON: We are going to take a very short break, it's a joy having you both here. I know you and I only arrived late last night, Alex has been

soaking up. It's such a job. Soaking up the atmosphere now for a couple of days.

Don't forget, we're one day out from kick off. It will be Russia-Saudi tomorrow here in Moscow. We are though as we speak waiting on the voting

to begin and the results of the 2026 World Cup bid. Who will host that tournament? That is coming up, plus the latest World Cup developments and

a look at tightening security ahead of this year's tournament.

And while the U.S. president us trumpeting his meeting with Kim Jong-un as a breakthrough for peace, others are saying nothing much has changed.

Starkly different reactions to the Singapore summit coming up, stay with us.


ANDERSON: Welcome back. We are in Moscow this is a special edition of "Connect the World". With me Becky Anderson and my colleagues live from

Moscow's iconic Red Square which is -- it was a little bit cloudy today. We're just one day away from the World Cup which kicks off in this country.

[06:15:00] Tomorrow we are also, as we speak, awaiting a decision on who will host the 2026 games. Currently being fought out between Morocco and a

joint bid from the U.S., Canada, and Mexico.

Our own Alex Thomas as is Heath Pearce, a former USA footballer. Before we talk abut what's going to happen in the bottom of the hour, news out of the

Spanish camp which is important today ahead of the World Cup, go on Alex.

THOMAS: We thought the biggest drama one the eve (ph) with the Russia World Cup is choosing the 2026 host. Nope, Spain had said hold my dear,

we're going to jump in there.

So, Spain, who I got in the office sweep state by the way so I'm furious, that is news. Have Sacks their coach on the eve of the tournament. These

are the 2010 World Cup winners, didn't have a great 2014 tournament, but heavily back as one of leading favorites this time.

Julen Lopetegui announced on Tuesday that he was going to join Real Madrid to succeed Zinedine Zidane who stepped down after winning a third successor

champions lead trophy no less. Spanish F.A. president didn't know about it, fewer is. A lot (ph) jumps on the plane comes straight to Moscow and

the Sacks in what despite it seems having a last minute meeting with senior players including Sergio Ramos.

ANDERSON: So the head of FA, is he going to coach them?

THOMAS: He's going to take over.

ANDERSON: Seriously?

THOMAS: Seriously.

ANDERSON: He's joking, that's the news.

THOMAS: So, yes. That's quite remarkable and -- but interesting with the delegates are paying attention of in the --

ANDERSON: U.K. for years, how nerving would that be just when you turn off for one of what will be for those Spanish players, one of the biggest

problems of their lives.

PEARCE: Well, obviously coming back from the last tournament where they weren't that -- they didn't play as well as they did in 2010. It's a huge

distraction, obviously it's a distraction for the players as -- it's a distraction for the FA.

So, it depends how tighten that team is. If the FA truly believe that this is a group that can get it done and this will be a larger distraction to

let it linger on and linger on, then they made a good decision. But the players are pleading to keep the coach because it becomes a larger

distraction when you let him go.

THOMAS: So you'd listen to the players as the head of the Spanish (INAUDIBLE).

PEARCE: You would think so. You would think that the players would have some sort of priority here to say he knows the group, this is really

important for us. We get all these issues, we get that your blind sighted by this decision, but keep him around and we'll do it later.

ANDERSON: Football is a beautiful game and it's also a highly controversial as we know. Reminder of you, just before I do a little bit

of other news exactly what is going as we speak?

THOMAS: Yes, so it's got 210 global members of FIFA World Cup that was governing body deciding who's going to host at 2026 World Cup. They're in

the Expocentre about 15 minute drive from us here in Central Moscow.

And as soon as the final presentations, each of the two bids of Morocco and the united bid USA, Canada, Mexico are over, they can have an electronic

votes and they need to get to 104 votes which is over that 50 percent mark to win that 2026 World Cup bid.

ANDERSON: And a character from the under 21 national -- Mexican national team making his case for that united bid. Some people call it the NAFTA

bid. The united states, Canada, and Mexico in a joined bid which many people say technically is superior to the other bid, which of course is

Morocco, financially looks more rewarding to FIFA. But we are told, you know, right out but until the last minute this is neck a neck.

PEARCE: Yes, I think that's all credit to the Morocco bid. I think the united bid is stronger, I think the infrastructure is there. I think it's

a unique opportunity with all of the issues between Canada and the U.S., between Mexico and the U.S to come together and allow this to be something

bigger than politics, something larger than that and to really unite everybody around something that seems like the bid is really strong.

People have spoken so far to saying that President Trump has had a negative effect, but people have also said that he's also been fundamental in

helping build that bid process and making sure that all the infrastructure is there and all the answer to all the questions are provided. So either

way, I think it's a unique opportunity to come together.

ANDERSON: And the president of the U.S. soccer speaking now. So, we will -- well, we've got to be minutes away at this point. this is the closing

arguments for the bids. Viewers, we will get that result and we're putting out a little earlier in this show digitally for the first time ever FIFA

dragging their way into the 21st century here in 2018 I guess that was always due.

For the time being, thank you. I'm going to need some other news in viewers before we get that vote, but we are keeping eyes on it.

The U.S. President Donald Trump has arrived back in the United States. He tweeted minutes ago, "Just landed a long trip, but everybody can now feel

much safer than the day I took office. There is no longer a nuclear threat from North Korea."

Well, not everybody is social. Joe Johns has more.


[06:20:00] JOE JOHNS, CNN SENIOR WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): President Trump returning to Washington amid criticism over the concessions

he made to North Korea in exchange for a vague commitment to denuclearize.

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We have some things that you don't even have in the report. We made a lot of progress, tremendous

amount of progress.

JOHNS: The president defending his "great relationship with North Korean dictator Kim Jong-un", tweeting that, "The world has taken a big step back

from potential nuclear catastrophe."

But the president's announcement that he is suspending joint military exercises between the United States and South Korea provoking alarm and

confusion and so (ph) and Washington.

BOB CORKER, U.S. SENATE REPUBLICAN: I think sometimes the president has a tendency to stand up and say things that are ad hoc that haven't been

vetted and sometimes all things are walked back.

JOHNS: Senator Cory Gardner tweeting that "Vice President Mike Pence later attempted to reassure Republicans that readiness training and exchanges

will continue", although "war games will not".

TRUMP: We'll be saving a tremendous amount of money, plus I think it's very provocative.

JOHNS: The lack of detail in the joint agreement signed by President Trump and Kim Jong-un also garnering criticism.

ROBERT MENENDEZ, U.S. SENATE DEMOCRAT: This is the most anemic communicate that has ever come out of a U.S.-North Korea engagement.

JOHNS: Critics noting that North Korea has agreed to complete denuclearization multiple times in the past. And that the document

contained none of the language the administration has previously demanded.

MIKE POMPEO, U.S. SECRETARY OF STATE: The complete and verifiable and irreversible denuclearization of the Korean peninsula is the only outcome

that the United States will accept.

JOHNS: Also raising eyebrows, the president's glowing prays for Kim Jong- un despite his atrocious human rights record.

TRUMP: He's got a great personality. He's a, you know, funny guy, he's a very smart guy, he's a great negotiator. He loves his people not that I'm

surprised by that, but he loves his people.

JOHNS: The presidents complimentary tone in start contrast to his rhetoric just six months ago.

TRUMP: No regime has oppressed its own citizens more totally or brutally than the cruel dictatorship in North Korea.

JOHNS: Mr. Trump insisting that his harsh rhetoric brought Kim Jong-un to the table.

TRUMP: Well, I think without the rhetoric, we wouldn't have been here. I really believe that --

JOHNS: CNN has learned that President Trump wooed cam with his four minute Hollywood style movie trailer to pitch him on the idea of peace.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Two man, two leaders, one destiny.

JOHNS: On the Hill, Congressional Republicans offering measured praise in the wake of the summit.

MARCO RUBIO, U.S. SENATE REPUBLICAN: The president has gone down that road and should be given the chance to succeed. But I also think it's important

for us to be cautious.


ANDERSON: Well, our Senior Washington Correspondent Joe Johns reporting there. Well, while the U.S. reaction to the summit may be polarized, the

E.U. must go Beijing out of this being oddly positive and welcoming. Will Ripley is in Singapore and where certainly the city state will be delighted

to have pulled this off. When you consider though reaction around well (ph) particularly from around the region. How do you believe this is being

perceived at the end of the day?

WILL RIPLEY, CNN ANCHOR: Well there's certainly cautious optimism Becky that this vaguely worded nonspecific commitment to complete

denuclearization will go somewhere. But because of the fact there's no timeline, there are no specifics about verification, no requirement for

North Korea to reveal the size of its nuclear arsenal, how many war heads they have, how many missiles they have. There are obivously a lot of

questions and concerns about what is going to happen now and in the weeks and months ahead. How long is this denuclearization process going to take?

How can the United States and the world know that North Korea is sincere? President Trump saying that he trusts Kim Jong-un and Kim Jong-un trusts

him, but we know from past nuclear deals including the Iran deal.

[00:24:00] They're never based on trust but based on verifiable fact and you just don't have that here, at least not now. So I guess the ball now

moves into the court of the US Secretary of State, Mike Pompeo and his North Korean counter parts who are expected to begin lower, level working

level discussion about how to actually implement the broadly worded promises made in the declaration here in Singapore, back to you.

ANDERSON: And that can take sometime, meantime the responds in North Korea to the outcome of this summit, much applauded I believe.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes. It's actually the one time where in the North Korea is heralding a victory for their country and the rest of the world,

is also reporting a victory for their country, you know, state media kind of always been spins it one way. It took more than or I should say almost

24 hours for the images that everybody else saw almost instantly to reach the 25 million citizens of North Korea. But once they did, either on the

morning paper or the afternoon news bulletin, I mean obviously the messaging was triumphant.

[00:25:04] The pictures of their supreme leader Kim Jong-un and President Trump standing side by side in front of row of American and North Korean

flags, I mean, this is something unprecedented to even for their veteran news reader, Ri Chun-hee, who, you know, made the news announcements today.

She -- they always bring her around for big news.

She's talked about nuclear test and missile launches, the deaths of leaders but never in her decades long career has she talked about this, something

that all of the North Korean here have always thought that only Kim Jong-un has been able to achieve. A face to face sit down and the prestige and

legitimacy that comes with it, by sitting across the table with the president of the United States.

ANDERSON: All right, Lee (ph) is in Singapore and the time 6:25 p.m. Thank you.

In the UK, British Prime Minister Theresa May is about to face further questions over her Brexit strategies. The UK withdrew (inaudible) returns

to the House of Commons.

Now, yesterday Mrs. May survived one of a greatest tests over, Brexit so far, she managed to stable, to fight of a rebellion, demanding that MPs

have the definitive say over a final Brexit deal. But the Prime Minister had to make a concession which could have, some say, if she doesn't strike

a deal with Brussels by the autumn.

Right, you're back with the set here in Moscow. Here is Alex with me as we watch the Moroccan campaign to host the 2026 World Cup making that closing

arguments to FIFA members at Congress just up the road from here. We will get a result on that decision imminently, what do we know about the Morocco

bid reminders?

ALEX THOMAS, FOOTBALL PLAYER: Well, we know the Morocco bids was a late bit, it surprise for the World Cup opening body, who actually we're very

quickly against it. They really want the United bid to win.

Mainly and quite frankly, because they've got a lot of debt in that coffer, they need to refill the money banks after all the legal fees spend it over

the upheaval in recent years, or the corruption allegations and the huge upheaval of FIFA. So interestingly during that last minute presentation of

united bid, they flash up a graphic, just reminding members, they're expecting a $14 billion win pool, including an $11 billion profit to FIFA,

I think that's going to play pretty well.

ANDERSON: Given that their coffer is little empty at present off to everything that is being going on over the last -- well couple of years.

THOMAS: Yes. I think they've got a lot of legal fees, they still got victim status with the US Department of Justice as they continue those

investigations,. Well, that's going to continue quite as bigger and the end of the current US administration as another last one.

We'll have to wait and see, but certainly, they don't out of the woods yet. They've done everything they think they needed to improve transparency, and

still criticism of the current FIFA President, Gianni Infantino. They got rid of someone who was sticking to their guns in terms of the governance,

the new governance structures and to ethics policies also been sacked.

So he's still got a massive question mark over him as regards that and he certainly seem very favorable to Vladimir Putin and Russia over the hosting

of this tournament that will all be forgotten when we kick off here and the fans are enjoying themselves and we have good football.

ANDERSON: Correct. So the World Cup stops here, of course, tomorrow. The bid for the 2026 World Cup and those will be hosting it happening

imminently. He's with me. Alex is with me.

And were going to take a very short break and come to you with what is special edition of CONNECT THE WORLD live from Moscow with the results of

that voting process in the next 10 minutes or so. Plus the tiny country that is gearing up to stage the biggest tournament in the world, that

coming up after this.


[00:31:19] ANDERSON: Welcome back to what is our special edition of CONNECT THE WORLD. We are here in Moscow with just have a 24 hours from

now, football's biggest tournament, the World Cup will begin and there is another huge development for this competition. We will soon find out who

will host the tournament eight years from now in 2026 seems like a long time to wait but it really isn't. The choice is between a United bid, it

is known between the U.S., Canada and Mexico or Morocco.

Now, this is the first time that FIFA is using a digital vote to host -- choose a host nation, the 2026 World Cup is also likely to be the first

time that 48 teams will compete. Well, we are monitoring that and we will get the result shortly. This is the Morocco campaign still making it's

case to Congress and FIFA members.

And another breaking news story that we all following this out, the sacking of the Spanish coach with just one day to go until the World Cup '18

itself, plays Portugal on Friday. Much to discuss including in four years from now, Qatar will host the tournament. It will be the first time

footballs show piece tournament goes to the Middle East. But the (inaudible) being full of challenges including an economic blockade by it's

Arab neighbors, look at this.


ANDERSON: History was made in December 2010 when Qatar, a small but immensely rich state, became the first Arab country to win the right to

host a FIFA World Cup.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We're not only going to host a successful World Cup, we're going to host the best World Cup ever.

ANDERSON: Almost a decade later that enthusiasm has translated into real progress with Qatar funding made the projects Al Bayt Stadium, once

finished it will host 60,000 fans.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE SPEAKER: Our involvement in the World Cup is not limited to football. It's not limited to construction. We believe that this will

be a benchmark when it comes to looking at new posting major events.

ANDERSON: But be on stadium and ambitious construction projects gather 2022 hasn't been short of controversy either. Initially, there were

allegations of corruption to secure the bid which Qatar has always denied, then there's the ongoing concerns over the working conditions of migrant


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We think that working during these high temperatures is a cause for a great number of worker illnesses and we fear in addition

workers death.

ANDERSON: Qatar has tried to address the issue with legislation restricting work during the hottest time of the year. The country says it

is also taking steps to improve working conditions in other ways including reforming labor practices like the controversial kafala system which

marries an immigrant employee to the employer. Now, it's not clear when changes will take place.

Critics say, this system infringes on workers rights.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We are very pleased that Qatar has announced some of the most progressive reforms. But, of course, what we need to see is for

Qatar to actually implement the promise reform.

ANDERSON: CNN has reached out to the Qatari government for comment and they have not yet responded. Arguably, one of the biggest threats to

Qatar's plans for the 2022 World Cup isn't inside its borders.

Last year, four of Qatar's Arab neighbors, Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Egypt and the United Arab Emirates cut off diplomatic and trade ties, accusing it to

supporting extremist groups are meddling in their affairs.

[00:35:08] Doha has repeatedly denied those allegations, but the crisis now in its second year has come with a high cost.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Qatar has lost tens of billions of dollars in terms of foreign investment, the longer the crisis continues, the more damage it

will do, not only to the Qatari economy, but also to the state itself.

ANDERSON: With four years to go, there are a number of challenges Doha still has to overcome to ensure the success of the first ever World Cup to

be held in the Middle East. But with billions of dollars already invested, Qatar is pushing ahead, hoping the joys of the beautiful game will out way

any challenge.


ANDERSON: Well, CNN has now heard back from the Qatari government which says it formerly ended the kafala system in 2016. Still though, employees

aren't able to leave the country without the blessing of their employer, something that's changing. We are told over the next two months.

And the country has also submit a documents to the United Nations to join to call human rights treaties were told coming to effects around the same

time. Let us see World Cup preparations as it were for 2022. We are here in Russia where the tournament kicks off tomorrow.

I'm joined by Alex Thomas, my colleague and former USA footballer. He speaks as we await the result of the vote to host the 2026 World Cup.

ALEX THOMAS, FOOTBALL PLAYER: It will be any moment. And we think of the moments 104 votes with the magic number that we just over 50 percent of the

206 eligible members. Someone hasn't turned up --


THOMAS: -- to vote today and across the four nations that are bidding aren't allowed to vote, that reduces 210 positive votes to 206.

So many scenarios, my head was slightly overheating early as it turn to the mass, my strongest subject. But if (INAUDIBLE) voting system, so we should

know it pretty fast. We've got the live feed from Congress, a 15-minute drive away at the Moscow Expo Center very close now.

ANDERSON: So a simple majority needed to win as you point out voting by electronic devices for first time. Four options, you will see Morocco bid,

all the United bid. There are two other options. We are assuming that they wouldn't come to fruition. None of the bids all abstain from voting.

Those are the options that the -- that those gathered at Congress will have. The votes will be made public on the FIFA website at the conclusion

of Congress.

And again, you know, when we consider the efforts for transparency given what fee for has been through over the past couple of years or the past

couple of decades, if we want to go back far enough. There is an effort being made to redeem themselves during this tournament and this voting


THOMAS: Absolutely. I think if you look at the fact that there's transparency and who is voting for who. I think that's a unique thing that

you are able to start to not -- you'll never know what everything that happens behind closed doors. That's sort of the political side of it.

But as a fan, I want to know who is voting for who. I want to know why this is happening, you know, when you look at the risk assessment of the

tournament, the US is or North America, the joint bid or the United bid is clearly ahead. But that doesn't mean everything.

If you look at the profit on a bid is ahead. But there's so many other factors that go into it. This is a fan-first, fan-friendly tournament.

And when you kind take all of that into consideration, first and foremost, I want transparency as a fan.

ANDERSON: This is the key technical criteria and the two bids scoring out of five.


ANDERSON: And walk us through this, Alex.

THOMAS: It's not all of the criteria. But it sort -- we considered most crucial, they get them waiting, you know, 30 percent, 10 percent or

whatever. These are the most important ones. And you can see there, the yellow on the right of the United America, USA -- sorry, USA, Canada and

Mexico outscoring Morocco and every accounts that were there except organizing cost.

Morocco promising a cheaper tournaments, also a greener tournaments and it would be the second time the World Cup would go to Africa.

ANDERSON: And as you speak, I am being told that Morocco making that case by saying simply, it is time for Africa or time again, I guess.

THOMAS: And they would want to really rely heavily on African -- fellow African nations, to vote as a huge closing block, second largest behind

UEFA's European block. We know that not all African nations will vote because some were publically said, sorry, for Morocco, some were publically

said, they will vote through the United bid.

Morocco feel it's not going to be have trial, but sometimes, they're happy as it transparent process. They're putting a really good fight,

considering maybe the underdogs throughout the process. I just finish that presentation. We're going to know going very soon, Becky.

[00:40:05] ANDERSON: President Putin ahead of this process, say he was absolutely delighted that FIFA keep politics out of sport. We absolutely

know that was -- we've just being discussing. Now, it comes down to it there will be some decisions made on a political basis when it comes to

this vote. We may not in the end find out everything that happen behind close door. But isn't -- it would be nonsense to suggest that we were

keeping politics out of school.

THOMAS: Yes. I mean there is an element of politics in all this --


THOMAS: -- just from hearing some of what was said at the Congress now using a weapons as tactic, using -- or the lack of weapons as a tactic from

Morocco for using. the -- people leveraging that the United bit is talking about a lot about what the -- how much profit will be drawn into it, you

know that turning it into something about money. And so there's all of these angles being leverage in this whole process.

So we know there's a lot more going on to it than just a friendly vote. I am excited about the idea that they both seem to be cordial to each other,

the bids. They seem that the celebratory that they're going to -- this will result in a positive for everyone instead of they're being finger

pointing already.

ANDERSON: Yes. I like that idea. You've brought this up, that Morocco have already said that if they don't win they will congratulate this United

or NAFTA or North American bid whatever we want to call it.

Now, I wonder whether President Trump would tweet a congratulations too. I'm just going to say, I'm just checking out there.

THOMAS: That the winner --


ANDERSON: The Morocco should they win?

THOMAS: Yes. And we've been told the winners of this vote will get an invitation here, to this World Cup --


THOMAS: -- from Vladimir Putin where we're going to get Donald Trump taking another long trip. But I know that he thought that's out for.

ANDERSON: All right. I thought he was out for. I think he's just literally landed about an hour ago.

THOMAS: The United States haven't qualified for this tournament sadly.

ANDERSON: I mean certainly. Well, there's a lot of point, isn't it?


ANDERSON: I mean, there was -- that this United bid, should it win and I think many people suggest it will but we've got a way. I mean, we know

that it was this. Welcome to the last minute. We've just seen the campaigns closing out their final pictures.

And will all three of those countries get it by to a total? We were talking about this earlier on with the --


ANDERSON: -- with Paul Newton (ph) and also it's not clear that Canada will. They'll have to work it out and that could be the distinct

(inaudible) the votes right now that can't be source to that one way another.


THOMAS: I mean, for the USA, as he is putting out considering that recent records in World Cup, before they fail to qualify here. It was such dismay

in my country that haven't qualified. You look -- take a player like Christian Christian Pulisic, only 19 still play for Borussia Dortmund, one

of the big carves out of Germany, (inaudible) to someone who could go to Iran, Madrid or Boston, I don't know, Manchester, United.

He'll be 27 on 2026. How much would he love to be at the peak of his foot balling powers, leading US side on home soil? It's a huge motivate back to

him, and a whole generation of young American players coming through.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes, absolutely. And you look at the last few friends, they put a very young roster under 23, which is around the group that would

be for the qualifying campaign and sort of reenergize the various scorned fan base at least in United States and the North America to sort of renew

that rivalry with Mexico.

But also the developmental side of things you look at Alfonso Davis speaking at the Congress today from Canada, presenting Canada. There's so

much growth in the domestic leagues in Mexico, in the United States and in Canada. And we're just seeing this, obviously, it was a big loss of the

US, huge lost that the US did qualified.

But we're seeing a big wave of increase fantom and not just around the World Cups but in general, so it does a true football or soccer passion to

fan. But you're right, it's a pivotal moment that we see a core of the US through what's being built, through the academies. And a real

developmental process of this players now being 27 or in the prime of their careers, and potentially being able to participating games that they will

be hosting it in their home country could be massive for the United States.

ANDERSON: We're going to take a very short break folks and a lot more to come both from here and in other breaking news stories around the world of

football. These hours, what we are concentrating on. And the Spanish manager sack one day to go to the beginning of this World Cup Tournament,

much more on that from Alex and Amanda who's with us this morning and the entire world sport team. Don't forget you can catch much more of CNN's

special coverage of the World Cup live form Moscow.

That is 12:30 p.m. London Time, well, 7:30 if you are watching in Hong Kong and wherever you are watching in the world, I'm sure you can work out with

the time is their special edition of world sport live from Moscow. We are nearly a kick-off, we are going to take a very short break, back after



[00:47:03] ANDERSON: Welcome back, this is a special edition of CONNECT THE WORLD. With me, Becky Anderson, we are live from Moscow's iconic Red

Square just one day from the World Cup in the fans gathering behind this from all over the world, like we see some Iranian fans out there, some

Brazilian fans.

Kick-off of course is tomorrow. The Russian's play the Saudi's here in Moscow, this will happen in at a time when Russia find itself isolated from

the West. We are also are awaiting a decision imminently on who will host the 2026 World Cup, fought out between Morocco and a joint North American


So the votes are beginning now as we speak I've got, Keith (ph) and Alex with me. Heat is a former player for the USA, part of this United bid, you

know, we shouldn't really say who do you want to win but, I mean, you clearly want the United bid to win, that will be for all the right reasons,

Keith (ph).

KEITH (PH): Absolutely. I did -- I never had a chance to participate in the World Cup. I was close in 2010 just as (inaudible) weeks before the

final roster. This is my first World Cup here in Russia and it's such a wonderful experience that I know we had it in 1994. It was a big splash

but a sort of went away, was also the sort of the birthing point for major league soccer, a pivotal moment in the growth of soccer and in North

America --

ANDERSON: Which has imploded then of course.

THOMAS: Yes, of course, has imploded. But our two success at least from North American perspective, were (inaudible) Mexico but for the US was at

2002 World Cup, that was a pivotal moment. And I think we're now at a generation where people are being raise in the culture in North America,

soccer and football, and I think the future is looking good if you can win this.

ANDERSON: Look, I mean, and makes go to (inaudible) football and history, host of the tournament in 1970 and in 1986, Canada, a massive fan base, a

huge passion but huge passion in Africa, of course, Morocco has a big, you know, even though it didn't only technical basis do as well as the American

but it will be the North American but didn't look bad. On this boat, we believe is likely to be really, really close, Alex.

THOMAS: Yes. And I look distracted -- my head down because I was just looking at what Fatma Zamora, the FIFA general secretary was saying,

because it now looks the ones you take away the for bidding nations, one of the associations turn up.


THOMAS: And also as the speed about some of the US territories whether they should also be excluded because of their obvious bias. So they were

left with this 203 eligible votes that means the magic number for the winning bid is a 102.

ANDERSON: Hundred and two.

THOMAS: Listen closely in (inaudible).

ANDERSON: We'll be talking now, what's the magic number? We need the magic number.

THOMAS: It's the 13 (inaudible) lucky for some, it will be one of them. So --

ANDERSON: Yes, OK. Well that is what is happening as we speak. And listen, you know, for football fans, there's a hugely important why this

tournaments held, who's holding it, what is going to look like, is it going to be an expanded tournament in 2026 for FIFA, the stakes couldn't be

higher, not least because of the controversy that that organization has been stitching over the past years.

[00:50:11] THOMAS: Yes. They really need to rebuild. There are some still sites at this day, FIFA is beyond repair that still needs to be, you

know, wipes out and start again from scratch. But the current president, Gianni Infantino, desperate to show that he can stir the FIFA shift. So

last week, he was fames he loved to see analogies. But still there mean to calm to come the waters.

And I think if the United bid is pick, then certainly that promise of an $11 billion profit to FIFA will help fill out those offers again.

ANDERSON: Right. So voting started, symbol majority is needed. Alex now rightly points out, that's a 102 is the number we're looking for. Let's

listen in.


FATMA SAMOURA, FIFA SECRETARY GENERAL: The results are ready. And I'm giving back the floor to FIFA president to announce the winning bidder.

GIANNI INFANTINO, FIFA PRESIDENT: Thank you very much, Secretary General. So we have a winner for the 2026 FIFA World Cup.

The member associations of Canada, Mexico and USA have been selected by the FIFA Congress to host the 2026 FIFA World Cup. Thank you.

SAMOURA: Dear delegate ladies and gentlemen, silence in the room, please.

INFANTINO: I would like to ask now the representatives of the United Bid to come on stage, please. And the president of CONCACAF, please.

SAMOURA: Mr. President, we can announce at the same time the results. Morocco bid got 65 votes or 3 percent. United bid got 134 votes or 67

percent and none of the bid got 1 percent.


ANDERSON: So in the end, it wasn't as close as many of the experts had suggested. The 2026 World Cup eight years from now will be hosted by a

combination of the United States of America, of Canada and of Mexico.

Keith (ph) is the Keith is a former U.S.A.-- football has been holding back a little bit really non-partisan this morning about this voting prove that

you've just on a...

KEITH (ph): Yes, I'm relaxed now. That was a nerve-wrecking process...


KEITH (ph): ... because of how good Morocco has been was...


KEITH (ph): ... and how close people are expected it to be but also huge credit to the United bid coming together in a way that they felt would will

really, really bring the best opportunity in North America to -- in a World Cup there.

ANDERSON: And let's get you to Ottawa in Canada where Paula Newton is standing by. We talked about the passion for the game a little earlier.

Canada will be absolutely delighted. They will be involved in hosting this tournament 8 years from now, Paula?

PAULA NEWTON, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Absolutely for all of those communities that puts so much behind this game it will be so great honestly, Becky, to

see it and those stadiums, amazing.

[00:55:03] ANDERSON: Morocco, 65 votes, United bid 134 and 1 none of the above, Alex.

THOMAS: Yes. That will be interesting to see. I think Morocco will find that slightly disappointing. They were always the underdogs in this race

but they love it very strongly and even as recently as 48 hours ago many experts predicting a very, very tight race.

I will have to wait and see from the reaction for what swung it, clearly the financials involved, the possibility of $11 billion profit for the

FIFA, might have been a factor closer, that all the infrastructures in place. Twenty-three stadiums, none of which need to be build, they're

already there and more than $2.5 billions in ticketing sales alone.

ANDERSON: Do you know like what you see today, this morning? Transparency of this vote, the digital nature of this vote, we got the results straight


THOMAS: It's very hot as the Germans has covered all FIFAs, corruption allegations in recent years, to praise them. I think they've got this

right. Let me -- that was even acknowledge by the Morocco bid. So they will get applauded to this.

I don't-- if the agency in a week's had a pending comes out subsequently and looks it's a fair transparent process, we'll find out later which

association fits appropriate for which bid.

ANDERSON: Well, Mexico has the experience. Canada has the passion, the United States in it to win it from the out set. We await to see whether we

get a tweet as it were from the US president, who has touchdown in the United States after his trip to Singapore.

The triumphant United bid that in Moscow. We're a day out now from the beginning the kick for this year's World Cup. I'm Becky Anderson in

Moscow, a special edition of cnn TALK WITH MAX FOSTER live from outside the British parliament is next from the time being this morning from me and my

boys, right, good morning.