The United States, Canada and Mexico have confirmed they are launching a joint-bid to host the first 48-team World Cup in 2026.
FIFA announced the decision to expand international football’s premier competition by 16 sides last January, and the North American trio became the first countries to make their interest in hosting the event official at a media conference in New York on Monday.
CONCACAF is in line to receive six qualification spots for the expanded World Cup, meaning only three automatic places would remain available if the US, Canada and Mexico are succesful. The qualification proposals are set to be ratified in May.
The US has co-hosted the Gold Cup with Mexico in 1993 and 2003, while the most recent edition saw Canada share responsibilities with their neighbours to the south.
The World Cup has taken place in Mexico twice – in 1970 and 1986 – while the US was the venue for the 1994 edition.
US Soccer Federation president Sunil Gulati said: “The last time I stood here [One World Trade Center] was to say goodbye, goodbye to the Copa America.
“Now today we are saying hello, hello to something else, and what we are saying hello to is the 2026 World Cup and our efforts to bring that back to the United States, Canada and Mexico.
“We look forward to welcoming the world after what we hope is a very successful bid.
“Before this conference is over we will sign a memorandum of understanding between the three of our countries, signifying we will bid together.
“The general parameters of that bid are 80 games, three quarters of which will be played in the United States – 60 games in the United States – and 10 each in Canada and Mexico.
“The final decision on those things are up to FIFA, but that is our proposal and our agreement together.”
The election of Donald Trump as US president has heightened political tensions with neighbours Mexico, but Gulati insisted Trump supported and actively encouraged their involvement in the bid.
“We have the full support of the United States government in this project. The president of the United States is fully supportive and encouraged us to have this joint bid,” added Gulati.
He is especially pleased that Mexico is part of this bid and that’s in the last few days we’ve got further encouragement on that. We’re not at all concerned about some of the other issues that some people may raise.
“We looked at bidding alone and decided in the end we wanted to bid with our partners in North America and we have strong encouragement from president Trump to that very end.”