U.S. takes best shot at landing FIFA World Cup with joint bid
US Soccer chief Sunil Gulati says a joint bid for the 2026 World Cup between the US, Mexico and Canada has received the "full support" of the US government and president Donald Trump.
Despite the plan being revealed Monday afternoon during a press conference on the 102nd floor of the Freedom Tower, the three nations won't learn if their combined bid is successful until May 2020, when Federation Internationale de Football Association is expected to name the hosts of the massive tournament, which will expand from 32 teams to 48 in 2026.
At the minute, the plan is the U.S. will host 60 games and 10 games each will be played in Mexico and Canada.
USA soccer chief Sunil Gulati said the football federation has the support of President Donald Trump. "We looked at bidding alone and decided in the end we wanted to bid with our partners in North America, and we have a strong encouragement from President Trump to that very end".
The news of the joint World Cup bid was met with some resistance in Mexico, nearly entirely because the country - host of the 1970 and 1986 World Cups - was expected to be handed more games.
"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. It was 16 years earlier that the World Cup last came to the CONCACAF region, when the United States hosted a 1994 edition that set records for total attendance and average per game. Mexico previously hosted the tournament in 1970 and 1986, while Canada hosted the women's World Cup in 2015.
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Representatives from the United States Soccer Federation, the Canadian Soccer Association and the Mexican Football Federation announced that the 2026 competition, which will feature 48 nations for the first time, will also see the tournament potentially hosted in three different countries for the first time. Russian Federation is hosting the 2018 finals, followed by Qatar in 2022.
"The US, Mexico and Canada have individually demonstrated their exceptional abilities to host world-class events", added Gulati. The final phase will take place in May 2020, before the next U.S. President elections. FIFA is football's world governing body.
Africa and South America are eligible to bid but no countries from those continents have publicly declared an interest.
The 2014 World Cup was an economic disaster for Brazil, which spent billions to build stadiums specifically for the tournament that are now already unused and in disrepair.
Among the possible venues are MetLife Stadium in East Rutherford, New Jersey (82,500 capacity); AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas (80,000); Levi's Stadium in Santa Clara, California (68,500); Gillette Stadium in Foxborough, Massachusetts (66,000); and Lincoln Financial Field in Philadelphia (69,500).
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