USA, Canada and Mexico in joint bid to host 2026 World Cup
Pitch for football finals comes at time of heightened scrutiny of US-Mexico relationship
Mexico’s president Enrique Pena Nieto and US president Donald Trump are at odds over US plan to build border wall. Photograph: Dario Lopez-Mills/AP Photo
The ambitious three-nation bid would mark the first time a World Cup was cohosted by multiple countries since the 2002 World Cup in South Korea and Japan. The bid also comes at a time when the relationship between Mexico and the United States has come under scrutiny, with the US president, Donald Trump, vowing to build a wall on the Mexican border. “[The bid] is a very strong sign of what football can do to bring countries together,” the Confederation of North, Central America and Caribbean Association Football (Concacaf) president, Victor Montagliani, said last week.
The United States last hosted the World Cup in 1994. That tournament was a 24-team, 52-match event that still holds the attendance record (with nearly 3.6 million spectators), despite a subsequent expansion of the format to 32 teams and 64 matches. Mexico previously hosted the tournament in 1970 and 1986, while Canada hosted the women’s World Cup in 2015.
Montagliani said last week a joint bid would be “a fit” with the new 48-country, 80-game format for the 2026 tournament, although each country individually would have the infrastructure to host the World Cup alone.
Decision in 2020
In May, Fifa announced a four-stage bidding process for the 2026 tournament, with a final decision in May 2020. It later confirmed that the previous two World Cup hosts, Europe and Asia, will not be eligible to bid. That leaves Concacaf (which last hosted in 1994), the Confederation of African Football (which last hosted in 2010), the South American Football Confederation (2014) and the Oceania Football Confederation (never).
The entirety of Fifa’s congress decided on World Cup hosts until 1982, when the power was entrusted to the organisation’s executive committee of about two dozen members. After the controversial December 2010 vote that awarded the 2018 and 2022 World Cups – currently the subject of a criminal investigation by Swiss authorities – the decision was returned to the broader voting body of 211 members.
Morocco and Algeria have reportedly mulled official bids for 2026 and could challenge the North American bid should either broker an adequate voting alliance. Europe has 55 members in the Congress, Africa 54, Asia 46, Concacaf 35, Oceania 11 and South America 10.
South Korea and Japan were initially competitors with Mexico for the 2002 World Cup, with the Asian countries opting to unite their bids shortly before the decision was handed down. The political and logistical difficulties that ensued, including high-profile squabbles on whose name would appear first on the official logo and hosting rights for the opening game and the final, prompted Fifa to officially introduce a statute prohibiting cohosting bids in 2004.
But the governing body went back on that decision last year, saying it will permit joint bids if they are from members of the same organising committee.
The North American bid is bolstered by a fleet of gleaming new NFL stadiums built over the past two decades that are suitable for international matches.