A joint bid among Canada, Mexico and the United States has emerged to host the 2026 FIFA World Cup it was announced Monday from a press conference at the Freedom Tower in New York.
The Confederation of North, Central American and Caribbean Association Football (CONCACAF) is the official organization behind the bid, that if successful, would host 48 nations for 80 World Cup matches in 2026 – 60 in the United States, 10 in Canada and 10 in Mexico.
“This is a milestone day for U.S. Soccer and for CONCACAF,” U.S. Soccer Federation President Sunil Gulati said Monday, “we gave careful consideration to the prospect of bidding for the 2026 FIFA World Cup, and ultimately feel strongly this is the right thing for our region and for our sport.”
“Along with our partners from the Canadian Soccer Association and the Federación Mexicana de Fútbol, we are confident that we will submit an exemplary bid worthy of bringing the FIFA World Cup back to North America.”
It will be the first time that FIFA will qualify 48 nations, up from the current 32. They will be split into 16 groups of three, with the top two in each progressing to a 32-nation knock-out round.
— Canada Soccer (@CanadaSoccerEN) April 10, 2017
“Canada has already proven itself as a formidable host for the world’s game, setting FIFA records for attendance at the FIFA U-19 Women’s World Championship in 2002, the men’s FIFA U-20 World Cup in 2007, and the FIFA Women’s World Cup Canada 2015™,” said Victor Montagliani, president of Canada Soccer and CONCACAF.
“We look forward to continuing our successful collaboration with fellow CONCACAF member associations U.S. Soccer and Federación Mexicana de Fútbol Asociación under the FIFA Council principles for joint bids and to continue our tradition of hosting record-breaking international events.”
Under current FIFA rules, bids from Europe and Asia are not eligible for 2026 since Russia is already preparing to host in 2018 and Qatar will stage the event in 2022. Brazil in South America hosted in 2014 and South Africa was the site of the 2010 event.
Argentina and Uruguay have already discussed a possible bid for the 2030 edition of the World Cup, further reducing any likelihood that a bid will come from South America.
The last time the Games were held in North America was in 1994 when the United States hosted for the first time. Mexico hosted twice, in 1970 and 1986. Canada has yet to host the marquee FIFA event, and has only qualified once to compete – in 1986 when the nation fell in the first round without any victory.
Should the CONCACAF bid be awarded the hosting rights, organizers will need to determine if all three nations receive an automatic qualification for the tournament. Solo host nations normally earn that privilege.
Under the new 48 nation format, CONCACAF is set to receive six qualifications.
The first-ever three nation bid is currently unopposed early in the race which is expected to come together next month when FIFA sets out four-phase process and the rules of the contest at a meeting in Bahrain. The winning bid may not be confirmed until 2020.
A senior producer and award-winning journalist covering Olympic bid business as founder of GamesBids.com as well as providing freelance support for print and Web publications around the world. Robert Livingstone is a member of the Olympic Journalists Association and the International Society of Olympic Historians.