Hosting a World Cup is a spectacle unlike any other, and in two cycles, the world’s biggest competition will return to North America following Wednesday’s vote.
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With the decision to hand the United Bid — comprised of the Canada, Mexico and United States football federations — the rights to the 2026 edition of the World Cup, it gives those in the western quadrant of the world something significant to look forward to for the future.
Mexico will once again enjoy itself this summer, as the 2018 tournament prepares to kick off on Thursday, but there has been a bitter taste in many Americans’ mouths since the U.S. Men’s National Team’s failure in the build up to Russia.
By no means does the award of 2026 take away that grief, nor should it, but what the positive vote does offer the U.S. and its North American mates is an exciting beginning to a new era.
And it’s one that the three CONCACAF nations can say they historically took part in.
2026 ushers in the start of the 48-team World Cup, which gives teams from North America an enhanced opportunity of qualifying for the competition.
Instead of three automatic places in the tournament, six will be given by that time. Meanwhile, it is expected that another spot will be up for grabs in the form of a playoff.
While the U.S. and Mexico have become World Cup mainstays throughout the tournament’s past, this is particularly pertinent for Canada — who has appeared in just one World Cup (1986).
For years, North America has looked at avenues to grow its game, and while some may argue that a 48-team competition will dilute the World Cup field, for CONCACAF and the rest of the World Cup it opens up a brand-new opportunity for teams that have previously been left at the alter.
From an American perspective, it’s selfish but after the struggles in the lead up to 2018 it’s nice knowing that the USMNT will be guaranteed a spot in its own tournament.
Joking aside though, the U.S. has a track record of putting on quality events, whether that be the 1994 World Cup, the Olympic Games and beyond.
Not to mention the 2026 World Cup will coincide with the 250-year anniversary of the U.S.’ independence.
As nice as it is to travel and experience new countries, having the tournament come to our own backyard is a chance that simply cannot be missed, especially considering it will be held in three separate countries for the first time in the history of the World Cup.
The wounds of 2018 may still sting for the U.S., but for today at least, the Yanks, El Tri and The Canucks have won in the biggest way possible.