The soccer federations of the United States, Mexico, and Canada announced and signed an unprecedented bid for all three countries to host the 2026 World Cup.
Victor Montagliani, president of the Canadian Soccer Association and president of the Confederation of North, Central America and Caribbean Association Football (CONCACAF); Decio de María, president of the Mexican Football Federation and CONCACAF vice president; and Sunil Gulati, president of U.S. Soccer announced the agreement in a press conference Monday.
“We think it makes our bid stronger in terms of the 209 members to eventually decide,” Gulati said. “So there’s a pragmatic part of it. We clearly between the three countries have 40, 50 stadiums that meet FIFA’s qualifications and criteria, as well as cities and hotels and all of that.
“The other part of it is that we think it’s terrific for soccer in the region – for Canada, Mexico, and the U.S. – given the close relationships we have already. And third, we think that in this interesting world in which we live, in the place we’re holding this particular press conference, with the Statue of Liberty outside and a whole bunch of things along those lines from a social perspective, it’s a positive. We don’t believe the sport can solve all the issues in the world, but especially with what’s going on in the world today, we think it’s a hugely positive signal and symbol of what we can do together in unifying countries.”
The bid stipulates that 60 of the 80 games of the tournament be played in the United States, with Canada and Mexico each hosting 10 apiece.
Gulati said that there is an agreement in the bid that all the remaining games after and including the quarterfinal games would be played in the United States, meaning the final game would be played in the U.S. A more detailed structure, however, has not been determined yet.
The press conference was held at the World Trade Observatory in the World Trade Center in lower Manhattan.
Gulati said that the last time the United States bid to host a World Cup, it cost between $8 million and $8.5 million. Because of the joint bid with Mexico and Canada, however, Gulati said he expects the cost of the bid to be lower than that.
“I don’t think that we’re going to have to spend the types of funds that other countries do when they bid,” Gulati said. “Let me be more clear. We’re not going to spend that sorts of money – in some cases, nine-figure amounts in the last bid.”
He later added that a final estimate on the cost of the bid has not been determined yet.
In January, The FIFA Council unanimously decided to expand the World Cup, making it a 48-team tournament for the 2026 edition, compared to the 24 countries that participated the last time the U.S. hosted the World Cup.
The motivation to enter an unprecedented joint bid came partly because of that increase in participant size.
The final vote to determine the host for the 2026 World Cup will take place in May 2020.
The United States hasn’t hosted the World Cup since 1994, when it hosted 3.4 million official attendees, an all-time record. Mexico last hosted the event in 1970, and Canada has never filed a bid for the men’s World Cup, though the country hosted the women’s tournament in 2015.
Some of the artificial playing surfaces in the women’s tournament two years ago were criticized as being unsafe for the players, and in announcing the bid, the committee tried to reinforce that appropriate measures for player safety would be adopted.
“Every men’s World Cup has been played on grass, and I would assume that this one would be the same, though that determination is left up to FIFA,” Montagliani said.