TORONTO—The soccer federations of Canada, the United States, and Mexico are making good progress on submitting their joint bid to host the 2026 World Cup. At an event prior to the MLS Cup final between Toronto FC and Seattle Sounders, the three federation presidents and bid director touted the infrastructure and financial windfall potential for FIFA, soccer’s organizing body.
The “United 2026” bid aims to put on the first World Cup across three countries. The lone competition comes from Morocco.
The bid is to be submitted by March 16, 2018 with the awarding announcement coming from Moscow on June 13, just before the Russia World Cup kicks off. It’s an aggressive timeline.
On paper, the North American bid looks incredibly strong given the infrastructure and history in place to host such a massive event.
Canada has never hosted a men’s World Cup, but it hosted the U20 event in 2007 and women’s World Cup in 2015. The United States hosted the world’s biggest soccer event in 1994 and two years later MLS played its first season. Mexico hosted the World Cup in 1970 and 1986. It could become the first country to host three World Cups.
The 1994 World Cup remains the most well-attended of all the competitions and is a serious feather in the cap of the North American bidders.
“We’ve always had a very special relationship with these two federations [Canada and Mexico],” said U.S. soccer president Sunil Gulati. “They’ve been partners for a long time.”
“We love to host, we love to cheer, we love to construct,” said Decio de Maria, president of the Mexican Football Federation. “That’s what we plan to do with our brothers Canada and the U.S.”
Gulati emphasized that given the capacity of stadiums and concessions, the 2026 World Cup will be by far the most financially successful.
Executive director of the United bid John Kristick reported on his two-day meeting in Zurich where FIFA went over the bid process and compliance and transparency issues.
Kristick’s work involves bringing the 32 cities in the three countries together to understand the vision behind the bid and how they can stand behind it. But which cities of the 32 will actually host World Cup games won’t be known until 2021.
Canada has four cities that could host World Cup games: Montreal, Toronto, Edmonton, and Vancouver.
The intention is for all the games to be played on natural grass surfaces, unlike what was done for the 2015 women’s World Cup.
“As of now they’d be on natural grass, that’s certainly the expectation we have,” said Gulati.
The plan is for Canada to host 10 of the 80 games.
“We would have been hard pressed to go it alone,” said Steve Reed, president of the Canadian Soccer Association. “Much more compelling is the fact that we have three federations doing it together.”
“I feel we’re in a very good place right now. Lots of work ahead of us,” said Kristick.
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