In a landmark decision on Wednesday, world soccer governing body FIFA announced that the North American nations of the United States, Mexico, and Canada will be co-hosting the 2026 edition of the FIFA World Cup. Over 200 countries voted in the process, but only two bids were seriously considered. The North American one that won, with 134 votes, and one from Morocco, which captured 65.
This is very big news for a lot of reasons. First off, it will be the first World Cup held in the USA since 1994 when the team effectively had its coming out party on the world’s stage. Another big thing to take from it is that the bid succeeded despite a hostile political climate that many believed would keep it from happening. Because make no mistake about it, the United States are the host here. They will take 60 of the 80 games, and every single match from the quarterfinals on. The decision to co-host was purely done for political reasons to win the bid, and it clearly has worked wonders for those in charge.
This may seem like an odd thing to do, to share a World Cup. But this is not a new concept. This has been done before, though it has not been tried on such a grand scale. In 2002, Japan and South Korea co-hosted the World Cup. They, though, are very close to each other. Mexico and Canada aren’t so much. This will create scheduling challenges, but we can rest assured that no one will be required to fly from north to south for a quick turnaround. The shared hosting concept has been done elsewhere, too, including in the European Championship. They will share it with number of cities in 2020 across Europe, so that could be a small trial for how this will work out.
The 2026 World Cup was already going to be a special one given that the tournament will expand from 32 to 48 teams. It will feature, instead of eight groups of four, 16 groups of three, with each team getting only two guaranteed matches. This is a controversial decision, but it should help out in convincing the other nations that all three hosts should get a place automatically in the tournament. This World Cup will be a memorable one for a number of reasons, and it will be sure to create a lot of drama both on and off the field in the build up to it.