The general consensus is that the United States is in line to host the 2026 World Cup after getting passed over under dubious circumstances for Qatar in 2022. America is a growing soccer hotbed that hasn’t hosted the event since 1994. The infrastructure is already in place. It just seems like the logical choice.
But now it seems America’s neighbor to the south also wants a shot at hosting the tournament for the third time and first since 1986:
Roughly translated, those headlines say that Mexico has a plan to host the 2026 World Cup — centered around a renovated Stadium Azteca in Mexico City — and will present it to FIFA officials in May, when the full FIFA Congress meets in Mexico City.
Tuesday’s news led some observers to opine that the end result would be a shared 2026 World Cup between Mexico and Canada, which hosted the Women’s World Cup last year. Newly elected FIFA president Gianni Infantino has said he’d be in favor of shared World Cup hosting among neighboring countries. As reported by ESPNFC late last month, he said he would support a shared bid by Argentina and Uruguay for the tournament’s 100th anniversary in 2030 (Uruguay hosted the first World Cup in 1930). Japan and South Korea co-hosted the 2002 tournament, though FIFA has since said it would rather not have shared World Cup hosting unless the countries involved have a combined organizing committee (Japan and South Korea each had separate organizing committees).
“An important theme is whether the World Cup can be played in more than one country,” Infantino told reporters last month at the headquarters of CONMEBOL, the South American soccer federation. “FIFA has been very much against a joint organixation. I personally support it.”
There are two schools of thought on the prospective American bid for 2026. On the one hand, U.S. Soccer President Sunil Gulati was instrumental in getting Infantino elected as FIFA president, switching support from Prince Ali to Infantino in the second round of voting and encouraging others to do the same. Gulati admitted that the 2026 World Cup came up in his conversations with Infantino before the election but stopped short of calling it a quid pro quo.
“We got a candidate that we’re supportive of, that we get along very well with, that understands the nuances of the American market,” Gulati said, via MLSSoccer.com. “I think it’s a little early to talk about 2026, but I think you can rest assured that it got brought in some of the discussions we had over the last couple days.”
On the other hand, there is the thought that a number of global soccer federations are resentful that the U.S. Department of Justice is spearheading the corruption investigation that toppled Sepp Blatter and led to the arrests of many top soccer executives from around the globe. The thinking goes that those unhappy federations could band together to halt the United States’ bid.
Gulati, naturally, says the United States would be a fitting host.
“We can host a World Cup relatively easily,” he said in late February, per the New York Daily News. “We can do it overnight.”
He continued: “Two hundred and nine countries vote in the next go-round. It’s going to boil down to what people think of U.S. foreign policy. … Do they like what our country stands for.”
The bidding process for the 2026 World Cup has been suspended in the wake of the scandals that have rocked FIFA and the election to replace longtime president Blatter. After he was elected in February, Infantino promised to resume the bidding process within 90 days. Under newly adopted rules, all 209 soccer-playing nations will vote on the host instead of the much smaller (and now defunct) FIFA Executive Committee, which decided the matter in the past.