Canada, the United States and Mexico have launched their bid to co-host the 2026 World Cup.
The joint bid was announced on Monday atop the Freedom Tower in lower Manhattan by the heads of the American, Mexican and Canadian federations.
They are seeking to host the first World Cup with an expanded 48-nation field. That’s double the size of the last World Cup in North America in 1994 when the U.S. was the only host.
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No rival bid has emerged for the 2026 tournament, which is due to be awarded by FIFA in 2020. FIFA rules currently rule out bidders from Europe and Asia because Russia is staging the World Cup in 2018 and Qatar has the showpiece in 2022.
Organizers say 10 games would be played in Canada, while the final would be held in the U.S. The 2018 men’s World Cup is set for Russia with the 2022 tournament headed to Qatar.
The 2026 tournament will be the first of the expanded format.
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The FIFA Council agreed in January to expand the current the 32-country tournament to 48 teams split into 16 groups of three. The top two teams from each group will then advance to a 32-team knockout stage.
Canada is coming off hosting the 2015 Women’s World Cup, deemed a success on and off the field. It has also hosted the 2014 U-20 Women’s World Cup, the 2007 U-020 Men’s World Cup, and the 1997 U-16 Men’s World Cup (now a U-17 event).
CONCACAF hosted the World Cup in 1970 and 1986 (both Mexico) and 1994 (U.S.).
When 2026 comes round, there will have been 32 years and seven World Cups since the 1994 one held in the U.S. with Europe, Asia, Africa and South America having served as host. CONCACAF will argue its time has come.
It will also no doubt make the case that a joint bid allows for more resources to host the expanded tournament.
The FIFA Council has already agreed on a four-phase process for bidding for the 2026 tournament. It is expected to confirm the bid rules at its May 11 congress in Bahrain.
A decision on the successful 2026 bidder is expected in May 2020. Canada has only ever qualified for one men’s World Cup – in 1986.