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USA, Mexico, Canada launch bid for soccer’s 2026 World Cup

Sunil Gulati, left, President of the United States

Sunil Gulati, left, President of the United States Soccer Federation, and Decio de Maria, President of the Mexican Football Federation, hold a news conference, Monday, April 10, 2017, in New York. The United States, Mexico and Canada announced a joint bid for the 2026 World Cup. Credit: AP / Mark Lennihan

U.S. Soccer unveiled a historic joint bid with Mexico and Canada to host the 2026 World Cup. The three countries revealed their plans Monday on the 102nd floor of One World Trade Center in Manhattan. They will now have to convince FIFA, soccer’s governing body, as to why the World Cup should return to North America for the first time since the United States hosted it in 1994.

There had been concerns that President Donald Trump’s desires to build a wall on the U.S.-Mexico border and his recent controversial executive order that barred immigration from predominantly Muslim countries would hurt the bid.

“We have the full support of the United States government in this project,” U.S. Soccer president Sunil Gulati said. “The president of the United States is fully supportive and encouraged us to have this joint bid. He is especially pleased that Mexico is part of this bid — and that’s in the last few days we’ve gotten further encouragement on that.

“To have governmental support is a critical part of a bid.”

The White House has not yet commented.

The only time a World Cup had multiple hosts was in 2002 with South Korea and Japan. This 80-game tournament will have a record 48 teams.

The United States would host 60 games, including the quarterfinals through the final. Canada and Mexico would host 10 matches each. No decision has been made on venues for the opening game and final.

Many soccer observers felt the joint bid’s chances looked good. With Russia hosting in 2018, Europe is out of the running, as is Asia because Qatar was awarded the 2022 event. South Africa welcomed the world in 2010, although Morocco reportedly is interested. The last competition was held in South America (Brazil) in 2014, and the confederation is more interested in 2030, the competition’s 100th anniversary (Uruguay first hosted in 1930).

“We don’t believe sport can solve all the issues in the world but especially with what’s going on in the world today, we believe this is a hugely positive signal and symbol of what we can do together in unifying people, especially in our three countries,” Gulati said. “The World Cup in North America with 60 games in the United States will be by far the most successful World Cup in the history of FIFA in terms of economics.”

There are still many hoops to jump through, including a formal written bid and stadium inspections. FIFA is expected to choose the host in 2020.


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