According to a report from The Guardian, CONCACAF president Victor Montagliani has indicated that a combined North American contingent is preparing a bid to host the 2026 FIFA World Cup. All three of Canada, the United States, and Mexico are set to join forces on this one instead of competing with one another for the hosting rights.
The bidding process is scheduled to begin in June, with a final decision set to be made in May 2020. All three countries were rumoured to be considering individual bids, but it seems that with the World Cup’s expansion to 48 teams, they’ve decided to team up to stage the tournament.
The U.S. hosted the tournament once in 1994, and Mexico saw it twice, in 1970 and 1986 (the only time Canada has qualified). Although the senior men’s tournament has never been in Canada, the U-20 World Cup was here in 2007, and the Women’s World Cup in 2015, both to great success.
The 48-team World Cup will require 80 matches to be played across the continent. Mexico has several worthy stadiums, including the famed Estadio Azteca, and the U.S. boasts a number of venues across the country that have hosted similarly large events.
In Canada, Vancouver’s BC Place, Montreal’s Olympic Stadium, and Toronto’s BMO Field seem the most likely candidates to host World Cup games. That said, both BC Place and the Olympic Stadium will require grass fields, and BMO Field will likely need to be fully expanded to 40,000 seats.
The United States will play host to the CONCACAF Gold Cup this summer in 14 different stadiums. The country also hosted 2016’s Copa America Centenario across 10 cities, building their portfolio of high-profile international tournaments.
If the bid is successful, Canada could return to the World Cup for the first time in 40 years, and just the second time in its history. Canadians were already hopeful for qualification with the extra slots allotted to CONCACAF, but hosting duties would mean an automatic place in the group stage.