The United States of America, Mexico and Canada have announced that they will attempt to host the 2026 World Cup.
Following the 2018 World Cup in Russia and Qatar 2022, World Cup 2026 will be the first competition that expands from 32 to 48 teams. If the joint bid is successful, it will also be the first time that three countries have jointly hosted the competition.
Shortly after the proposal, it was announced that the US would host 60 games, with Canada and Mexico both hosting 10 apiece, despite the intention of the three countries now; a decision will not be made on a host until 2020.
This was not originally going to be the case, but after corruption allegations were levelled at FIFA for both the 2018 and 2022 World Cups, the decision has been pushed back three years to allow time for investigation.
Canada is the only nation out of the prospective three that have not previously held the men’s World Cup, they did however play host for the 2015 Women’s World Cup. The US were the 1994 hosts and Mexico have held the competition in both 1970 and 1986.
Despite President Trump’s promise to build a wall between the US and Mexico; he expressed that he was fully behind the bid. It is thought that the joint bid is an attempt by the American administration to ease tension between the countries and as a show of goodwill.
Sunil Gunati, the head of the US Soccer Federation said:
Especially with what’s going on in the world today, we believe this is a hugely positive signal and a symbol of what we can do together in unifying people, especially in our three countries.
During his election campaign, President Trump labelled Mexico as a source of rapists and criminals, before announcing that he intended to build a wall between his nation and Mexico. This had led to unprecedented tension between the two countries, with Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto cancelling a trip to Washington over the President’s insistence that Mexico will pay for the wall.
Gunati acknowledged that this was in stark contrast to what the US Soccer Federation is trying to do, but also exclaimed that the he had spoken to Trump and the President was: “Fully supportive of the joint bid, he encouraged the joint bid and is especially pleased that Mexico is participating.”
Even though the bid is not likely to be accepted or rejected until 2020, regional body CONCACAF are hoping to accelerate the process by making a proposal to the FIFA congress that next meets in May.
In this process, the CONCACAF bid will be put to all 211 FIFA members and they would ask for a small window, for example, six months – to put together a report that would showcase the infrastructure and technical specifications that would be used, covering everything from stadiums to hotels and transports.
If this was successful and CONCACAF could meet all of the specifications set out by FIFA, then the World Cup could be awarded to them early; if not, then the traditional process would resume.
CONCACAF are the only regional board to not have hosted the World Cup since 1994 and as such, Asia and Europe are not permitted to bid for the 2026 World Cup, leaving only Africa as competition to host the tournament.
The dispersion of games has already begun to cause an issue for Mexican fans, with many being upset that out of the eighty games throughout the tournament, 60 would be held in the US, 10 in Mexico and 10 in Canada.
The simple reality though, is that the US were fully prepared to make a solo bid and would have very likely won the bid. The inclusion of both Mexico and Canada looks to be a goodwill measure.
Mexican federation President Decio de Maria tried to ease tensions by saying: “The United States doesn’t need us to host a World Cup, that is the message, on day one, we didn’t have a single game. Now we have 10.”
At present, the joint bid is the most likely option for the 2026 World Cup, it would certainly be a step further towards unifying the world through sport.