What’s the best way to bolster your country’s bid for the World Cup?
The U.S., Canada and Mexico have settled on an unprecedented answer to that question: just combine forces. The chiefs of the three countries’ national soccer organizations broke the news in New York City on Monday, announcing their joint bid to host the 2026 men’s World Cup.
“When our nations come together as one, as we will for 2026, there is no question the United States, Mexico and Canada will deliver an experience that will celebrate the game and serve players, supporters and partners alike,” U.S. Soccer Federation President Sunil Gulati said at a news conference.
Though it would not be the first time countries have split hosting duties (see: the 2002 World Cup), it would be the first time three have done so.
Under the proposal the U.S. would host 60 matches, with Canada and Mexico taking 10 apiece — expanding the slate of venues to accommodate an expanded slate of competitors: Beginning in 2026, FIFA is raising the number of teams to 48 from 32.
The 1994 (U.S.) and 1970 (Mexico) World Cups have two of the four highest average attendances in World Cup history. #WC2026pic.twitter.com/eng30MRhMc
— Paul Carr (@PCarrESPN) April 10, 2017
Given the growth in countries competing — and thus the number of matches they’re competing in — ESPN reports the joint bid is now the odds-on favorite to win. The BBC also notes that because of a rotational policy, European and Asian countries will be barred from bidding for 2026, since Russia and Qatar have already won the right to host the 2018 and 2022 tournaments, respectively.
ESPN explains the next steps:
“All bids must be submitted to FIFA by December 2018. The bids will be evaluated over the next 15 months, with that phase being completed by February 2020. The host or hosts will be chosen in May 2020, before the next U.S. presidential election.”
Asked how the joint bid is viewed by President Trump, who has promised to build a border wall between the U.S. and Mexico, Gulati said at the news conference that Trump was “fully supportive.”
“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.