The U.S. on Monday officially announced its joint bid, with Mexico and Canada, to host the world's biggest sporting event, the 2026 World Cup. And now U.S. soccer officials are hoping for a quick decision by FIFA, possibly by the end of 2017, that would finalize the deal.
The proposal is historic: it would be the second time the U.S. hosts the global tournament and the first time an entire continent cohosted. The plan includes sixty games held in the U.S., plus ten each in Canada and Mexico. The later rounds, from the quarterfinal stage to the championship, will take place entirely in the U.S.
1994 World Cup in the U.S. (Twitter)
Not everyone in Mexico is happy with this arrangement. Reports of mixed emotions and much clearer, angrier tweets appeared while the U.S. media celebrated the announcement. But any share of the tournament will make it Mexico's third time hosting the World Cup, a record. Mexico is one of only five countries to have hosted it twice.
Other reports wondered if the U.S. needed to include cohosts in its bid at all. With the new 48-team tournament format, Mexico's chances of being stuck with less-than-exciting Group Stage matches are high. The clear winner in the deal is the U.S. (and Canada, who, as hosts, are guaranteed a berth that might otherwise not be possible), while Mexico seems to be a mere cosigner.
Of course, the current political tension between the U.S. and Mexico is a concern but, if anything, this proposed cooperation (for a tournament that is, after all, nine years away) represents hope. Mexican soccer fans are justified in feeling that this is an unfair deal, but it signals willingness on the parts of both countries' officials to work together for a global event.
The U.S. certainly has the resources to host the 48 teams and with nine years for three countries to prepare, it should shape up to be a spectacular event. The U.S. hosts the International Champions Cup this summer, featuring the best European club teams, including Barcelona, Real Madrid and Bayern Munich. Last summer, the it hosted the Copa America Centenario, the first Copa America hosted outside of South America. The tournament included 16 CONCACAF teams, with Chile defeating Argentina for the championship at MetLife Stadium in New Jersey. And this July, the U.S. will host the CONCACAF Gold Cup, the championship tournament for North and Central America and the Caribbean.
So the U.S. has a lot of experience hosting international tournaments and a sturdy infrastructure to make it possible. CONCACAF plans to ask FIFA for an accelerated decision when they meet in May. Normally, the bidding process could take until 2020, but the U.S. and CONCACAF want to push for a decision by the end of the year that would allow planning to move forward quickly.
The three-country bid is a strong one and though specific plans will change in the coming years (and in the coming months until the decision is, hopefully, finalized), it looks likely that the U.S. will see a World Cup in the next ten years.