Three nations coming together sharing one dream: to host the 2026 FIFA World Cup.
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On Tuesday the heads of the national soccer federations of the U.S., Mexico and Canada came together to announce they’ve launched a joint bid to host the 2026 tournament across all three nations.
U.S. Soccer President Sunil Gulati, Canadian Soccer Association President Victor Montagliani and Mexican Football Federation President Decio de Maria gathered on the 102nd floor of One World Trade Center to make the announcement which hopes to see the tournament return to the CONCACAF region for the first time since the U.S. hosted its first-ever World Cup in 1994.
The U.S. previously bid to host the 2018 World Cup, but failed, and Mexico has hosted the World Cup in 1970 and 1986. Canada has never hosted the men’s edition but successfully hosted the 2015 FIFA Women’s World Cup.
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Gulati announced that the three federations have signed a “memorandum of understanding” and they planned to unveil more details to FIFA as the bidding process becomes clearer.
FIFA will host an expanded 48-team tournament, up from 32 teams, from 2026 onwards but how that all works will be discussed further in Bahrain in the next FIFA congress on May 11.
The U.S. will take the bulk of the tournament, with 60 of the 80 games in the United States of America, and discussions have taken place to schedule group games in similar time zones which run through all three countries to minimize travel.
“There will be 80 games, three quarters of which would be played in the United States and 10 games in each of Canada and Mexico,” Gulati confirmed.
It was also confirmed by Gulati that any potential tournament would be hosted in the U.S. from the quarterfinal stage onwards, thus meaning the World Cup final would take place in the United States of America. It is still unclear as to whether all three nations would qualify automatically for the tournament as the FIFA council would have to discuss that factor and so to would CONCACAF as qualifying would be heavily impacted in the region.
In terms of economics the bid makes a lot of sense as between the three nations there are dozens of stadiums ready to use for the tournament, plus the infrastructure is mostly in place to host an event the size of the World Cup. This continental style hosting approach is on the rise. For example, EURO 2020 will be hosted in cities across Europe instead of in one host country to stop a single nation from having to handle the economic burden alone.
Gulati also allayed fears about potential immigration problems between the U.S. government and teams traveling to the USA for the tournament.
“We have the full support of this project from the U.S. government,” Gulati said. “The president of the United States encouraged us to make this bid and is especially pleased that Mexico is involved in this bid. We have a strong encouragement from President Trump.”
More details will be released by the three governing bodies in due course as they will discuss their bid at the FIFA congress in May in Bahrain.
The overriding emotion from this announcement was one of togetherness as Gulati acknowledged the U.S. could have easily bid to host this tournament on its own but cited the desire to grow the game across the CONCACAF region as well as bringing the three nations together.