Mexico, the United States and Canada will jointly host the 2026 World Cup, it was announced today by FIFA, soccer’s international governing body.
The three North American countries’ joint bid — known as United 2026 — beat Morocco’s by a margin of 69 votes, 134 to 65.
The result means that Mexico will become the first country to host three World Cups after previously staging the 1970 and 1986 editions of the tournament.
But in 2026, Mexico and Canada will play second fiddle to the United States, hosting just 10 games each while their neighbor will take the lion’s share of the matches, hosting 60 including the final.
The 23rd World Cup will be the first time that 48 countries take part in the planet’s most watched sporting event, with the teams initially divided into 16 groups of three. It will also be the first time that three different countries jointly host the tournament.
The matches will be held at 16 venues across the three countries. Mexico City, Guadalajara and Monterrey are among 23 cities vying to host them.
The United 2026 bid plan called for each of the three countries to host one match each on the first day of the tournament with the “main” opening march to be held either in Mexico City or Los Angeles.
That means the capital’s iconic stadium, Estadio Azteca, is almost certain to feature on day one and become the only arena in the world to host matches in three different world cups.
The North American bid received a four out of five-rating compared to 2.7 for Morocco but another factor that likely helped to sway the more than 200 national football federations that were eligible to vote was that it pledged to generate a profit of US $11 billion for FIFA, more than double the US $5 billion Morocco said it could generate.
The president of the Mexican Football Federation (FMF), Decio de María, said that hosting the 2026 event would be “a great privilege and honor” while President Enrique Peña Nieto described news of the successful bid as “magnificent” and congratulated the FMF for the achievement.
“. . . FIFA’s decision is an acknowledgement to the three countries and a vote of confidence in Mexico’s organizational capabilities, the quality of infrastructure and the services Mexico offers . . .” Peña Nieto said.
While the tournament is still eight years away, football fans around the world don’t have long to wait until this year’s edition of the tournament gets under way in Russian.
The host nation will go up against Saudi Arabia in the opening encounter in Moscow tomorrow.
Mexico is grouped with Germany, Sweden and South Korea in the opening round and will need to finish either first or second to proceed to the knockout stages.
The opening match for the team nicknamed El Tri because of its tricolored uniform will be against defending champions Germany at 10:00am Sunday in the Russian capital.
Mexico has made it out of the group stage at each of the past six World Cups only to exit the tournament in the round of 16, the first knockout stage.
The last time El Tri made it through to the elusive “quinto partido” or fifth match in a World Cup was at home in 1986 when it lost to West Germany in a penalty shootout.
FIFA has estimated that 45,000 Mexicans will travel to Russia for the tournament.