US, Canada, Mexico to Share 2026 World Cup Bid
Earlier this week, the United States announced it would share a 2026 World Cup Bid with neighbors Canada and Mexico. The 23rd playing of the men’s tournament would be the first on American soil since the 1994 World Cup was held across 7 cities.
If awarded, the United States would host 60 of the matches, with Canada and Mexico receiving 10 each. The United States would hold rights to all games from the quarterfinals on. Why the willingness for such a small slice of the bid? For Canada, they’ve had a history of consistent failures in qualifying for a World Cup bid. Mexico, on the other hand, understands that the US could likely land the tournament without their partnership, so hosting 10 games was better than none at all.
To the delight of FIFA president Gianni Infantino, this joint bidding process will become the way of the future as 2026 will be the first year of new format play. This expansion ups the number of teams from 32 to 48, resulting in 16 groups of 3 for the opening stage of the tournament.
Thanks to the scandals surrounding the 2018 and 2022 bids involving Russia and Qatar, respectively, the formal bidding process has been put on hold until 2020, meaning we have a while until we know for sure.
Corruption aside, the US and its wing men are still likely a shoe in to be awarded the honor. Following the aforementioned scandals, FIFA is desperate to get through a bidding process without any more negative publicity. Not to mention it’s reported the organization lost over $369 million in the wake of the 2016 controversy. With the men’s tournament being FIFA’s largest moneymaker by far, multiple year losses of that magnitude is simply not a chance they can take.
Which leads into the point that the US and its partners in the bid certainly meet the technical and financial standards required to host. Because of the FIFA rule that countries whose region hosted the previous World Cup cannot bid, a majority of the remaining countries that qualify will be blocked. The only rumbling for a semblance of bid competition is Morocco, but nothing definitive has been reported.
A North American tournament site also provides FIFA potential to make up for some of their losses. The 1994 hosting, which had only 24 teams, still stands as the Word Cup’s record year for tickets sold. Can you imagine what a 48-team tournament could do in ticket sales?
But the United States is interested in more than just the economic boom. For years, FIFA and the US together have desired to see a growth of youth soccer interest and development in the US and Canada, specifically, as they lag far behind the remainder of the soccer world in participation.
As the rest of the world knows, starting on January 20, everything that comes America’s way has to be touched by Trump, intentionally or not.
Even though the White House has not made a definitive statement, US Soccer Federation President Sunil Gulati has commented that President Trump is fully supportive of the joint bid, and is “particularly pleased” that Mexico is on board. I guess we’ll deal with cutting a section of the wall down come 2026? Maybe he thinks their 10 games will help fund their portion. Thankfully, we have some time to sort all that out.
Regardless of his supposed enthusiasm, concerns have been expressed by the international federation on Trump’s immigration policies and the long-term affect they could have on the tournament. In other words, soccer officials are genuinely afraid that certain teams would not be let into the country to participate. Think Iran, who was on Trump’s ban list, but are also a consistent competitor.
Being 9 years away, Trump will not be in the White House (thank goodness!). However, the fact that we could, or more likely will, continue to see his influence for so long is, terrifying, to say the least. FIFA officials simply want guarantee that it will not be at the expense of their long-revered World Cup.
All in all, I would personally love a North American World Cup. Despite the USMNT’s history of lackluster performance, there’s something uniting about screaming along with your fellow countrymen. Honestly, we may need a little of that before 2026.