According to CONCACAF President Victor Montagliani, the U.S., Mexico, and Canada are expected to submit a joint bid to host the 2026 World Cup. There has been a discussion about a joint bid since last spring. It’s the right move. Here are a few reasons why.
Donald Trump is POTUS. Much has changed in the United States. An American World Cup bid is no longer a no-brainer. Trump’s Muslim ban, if enacted, could preclude a U.S. bid for the tournament altogether. No one knows what is coming. Adding more nations mitigates the chances a particular bit of U.S. policymaking sinks a solo U.S. bid. It removes potentially more palatable competitors.
FIFA ruined CONCACAF qualifying anyway. Did you like the Hex? It’s no longer going to exist after the 2022 qualification cycle. CONCACAF gets six bids under the new format. Were it in place for 2018, all the teams in the Hex would have qualified. Mexico, the United States, and Canada getting automatic bids won’t change a whole lot.
This will be a massive event. The 2026 World Cup is the first to use the 48-team format, with 80 matches over 32 days. The 2014 World Cup needed 12 venues. This tournament will need more. Most of the tournament will still be in the United States. Let’s say ideally you wanted to hold matches in stadiums holding 60,000 or more people. Mexico has one. Canada has zero. The United States has 79, three in Mississippi alone. Not much will change with the logistics. It will still be long flights to disparate locations.
FIFA can pat itself on the back. There is no narrative soccer executives like more than using soccer to transcend politics and to break down metaphorical walls. By 2026, a joint U.S.-Mexico tournament could be breaking down a literal wall. Heck, the Great Lakes could be remilitarized by then. All bets are off.
The only real hurdle will be… whether the final ends up in the Rose Bowl or Azteca.