Canada, Mexico and the United States have officially announced a joint bid for the 2026 FIFA World Cup.
The Confederation of North, Central American and Caribbean Association Football (CONCACAF) made the announcement of the bid, which if successful would mean three nations jointly hosting a FIFA competition for the first time, during a press conference at the One World Trade Center in New York City.
Among those present were CONCACAF President Victor Montagliani, who also heads the Canadian Soccer Association.
He was joined by United States Soccer Federation President Sunil Gulati and Mexican Football Federation counterpart Decio de Maria.
“This is a milestone day for US Soccer and for CONCACAF,” Gulati said.
“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 Mexican Football Federation, we are confident that we will submit an exemplary bid worthy of bringing the FIFA World Cup back to North America.
“The United States, Mexico and Canada have individually demonstrated their exceptional abilities to host world-class events.
“When our nations come together as one, as we will for 2026, there is no question the United States, Mexico and Canada will deliver an experience that will celebrate the game and serve players, supporters and partners alike.”
Gulati confirmed the general parameters of the bid is a World Cup of 80 games, 60 of which would be played in the US and 10 each in Canada and Mexico.
“The final decision on those things are up to FIFA, it’s their tournament, but that will be our proposal and that is our agreement together,” he said.
The 2026 tournament will be the largest-ever edition of the World Cup after the FIFA Council agreed to expand the competition by 16 teams as part of plans spearheaded by FIFA President Gianni Infantino.
Forty-eight countries will be split into 16 groups of three, with the top two in each progressing to a 32-nation knock-out round.
Should the three-nation bid earn hosting rights, a debate is likely to ensue as to whether each should receive automatic qualification to the tournament.
CONCACAF will receive six berths under the new format, the same number as the South American Football Confederation (CONMEBOL).
There will be 16 European nations, one from Oceania, eight from Asia and nine from Africa, while a play-off tournament has been proposed to decide two remaining spots.
The joint bid comes at a time when US and Mexican relations are strained, after American President Donald Trump pledged to build a wall along the border in a bid to curb illegal immigration.
Trump has also attempted to block travel to the US from a number of largely Islamic countries through executive orders.
Infantino has warned that nations considering bidding for the World Cup must allow any team who qualifies, and their supporters, access to the country.
Gulati claims, however, that Trump is “fully supportive” of the bid and had “encouraged” it.
“He is especially pleased that Mexico is part of this bid and that’s in the last few days we’ve got further encouragement on that,” he said.
“We’re not at all concerned about some of the issues that other people may raise.
“We looked at bidding alone and decided in the end that we wanted to bid with our partners in North America and we have a strong encouragement from President Trump to that very end.”
The US hosted the 1994 World Cup, which had the highest average attendance in the tournament’s history.
Mexico, meanwhile, became the first nation to host the FIFA World Cup twice in 1986, having also done so in 1970.
“For the Mexican Football Federation, and the entire Mexican soccer family, it is a source of pride to be candidates, along with the United States and Canada, to host the FIFA World Cup in 2026,” De Maria said.
“We have a unique opportunity to be the first country to host three World Cups.
“As such we are filled with pride and committed to make it the best ever.
“Mexico has been recognized for being a magnificent host of past FIFA events, such as the 1970 and 1986 World Cups, the 1999 Confederations Cup, the 2011 Under-17 World Cup, and most recently the 2016 FIFA Congress.
“If we are selected to host, it will be an honor to welcome everyone with open arms.”
Canada are yet to stage the competition and have only made one appearance to date, making a group exit after three straight defeats at Mexico 1986.
However, the country did host the 2015 FIFA Women’s World Cup, which featured an expanded 24-nation field with matches played in six cities in five time zones.
“Canada Soccer is honored to partner with fellow CONCACAF member associations USA and Mexico to bid for the 2026 FIFA World Cup,” Montagliani said.
“Canada is the only remaining G8 nation to have not hosted a FIFA World Cup despite our history of success in raising the bar for youth and women’s FIFA tournaments.
“We look forward to continuing our successful collaboration with fellow CONCACAF member associations US Soccer and the Mexican Football Federation under the FIFA Council principles for joint bids and to continue our tradition of hosting record-breaking international events.”
The three nations have hosted 13 FIFA World Cups – men’s, women’s and youth – combined, which is more than any other trio of geographically connected nations.
They have also set attendance records for five of those events.
Last year, the US staged the Copa América Centenario.
Celebrating the centenary of CONMEBOL, it was the first Copa América hosted outside of South America.
Confederation of African Football (CAF) President Ahmad Ahmad claimed last month that Morocco had the capability to host the 2026 tournament.
The African nation have unsuccessfully bid for the 1994, 1998, 2006 and 2010 World Cups.
A decision on the host of the 2026 World Cup is expected to be made in 2020.
European and Asian countries cannot bid due to FIFA’s rotation policy.
Russia is set to hold the 2018 World Cup, while the 2022 edition is scheduled to be staged in Qatar.
Argentina and Uruguay have already expressed their interest in co-hosting the 2030 World Cup.
By Daniel Etchells
Republished with permission from insidethegames.biz.