Still reeling from getting passed over by Qatar for the 2022 FIFA World Cup, US Soccer elected to go full speed ahead with a bid to host the 2026 edition of the world’s premier association football competition. This time, they are adding the Canadian Soccer Association and the Federacion Mexicana de Futbol as allies in a massive bid that tells Europe one thing, and one thing only: North America will not be denied its chance to put on a show for fans of the best sport in the world, far and wide. We got the money, we got the leverage, we got your payout coming in spades. Are you ready? Let’s dissect the details of this bid.
First off, some background. All three countries have put on the big stage before. Canada, for instance, hosted the 1987 FIFA Under-16 World Championship, the 2007 FIFA Under-20 World Cup, and just recently, the 2015 FIFA Women’s World Cup. Mexico has hosted two FIFA World Cups, in 1970 and 1986. It also hosted the 1983 FIFA World Youth Championship, the 2011 FIFA Under-17 World Cup, and the 1999 FIFA Confederations Cup. As for the good ol’ US of A? They hosted the 1994 FIFA World Cup, the 1999 and 2003 FIFA Women’s World Cups and the Copa America Centenario. Twelve major events across the breadth of the continent.
Let’s talk stadiums. You want expanded stadiums? Sure, Canada can help you out in that department. According to the rules, Stadiums must be able to accommodate a 20,000-square-foot (1,900 m2) hospitality village no more than 150 meters from the stadium. They must also have a capacity of at least 40,000 for group and second round matches and 60,000 for quarter finals and beyond. Which means…Stade Olympique in Montreal is the only one right now that can fit the mould.
This also means that there are six stadiums that can be expanded to also fit the mould: BC Place in Vancouver, Commonwealth Stadium in Edmonton, Investors’ Group Field in Winnipeg, Tim Hortons Field in Hamilton, BMO Field in Toronto (naturally), and TD Place Stadium in Ottawa. The latter two already host football teams: Toronto FC of MLS and the Ottawa Fury of USL. That’s Canada.
As for Mexico, you know very well that Azteca Stadium, a.k.a. Estadio Azteca was built to host World Cup tier events. They are the home of Club America, for Montezuma’s sakes! Heck, they can even hold the final if they want; they’ve done it before, you know. But, there are six other stadiums that can hold their hands up and host early round contests. And they are Estadio Jalisco in Guadalajara (home of Atlas), Estadio BBVA Bancomer (home of Monterrey), Estadio Olimpico Universitario (home of Pumas UNAM), Estadio Cuauhtemoc (home of Puebla), Estadio Chivas (home of, you guessed it, Chivas de Guadajalara) and Estadio Universitario (the home of Tigres UANL).
As for the USA, have they got some stadiums for you, Mr. Gianni Infantino and the Executive Committee. Even though most of these big houses are built for the gridiron kings of the NFL and college football, they can also host big-time soccer, like CenturyLink Field, the home of your current defending MLS champions, the Seattle Sounders Football Club, and Gillette Stadium, the home of the New England Revolution.
Then you also have Ohio Stadium in Columbus; the ever-reliable Rose Bowl Stadium in Pasadena; the LA Memorial Coliseum; Samford Stadium in Athens, Georgia; the Cotton Bowl in Dallas, FedEx Field in Landover, Maryland; MetLife Stadium in East Rutherford, and AT&T Stadium in Arlington…and those mentioned are just the stadiums with seating capacities of 80,000 or more. There are 40 stadiums in the continental United States (this does not include Aloha Stadium in Honolulu) with seating capacities of 40,000 or more. This is proof as to why the USA will always be the hosts of the CONCACAF Gold Cup. In fact, they’re hosting again, this year, by themselves. Chapeau to the late Chuck Blazer.
And in order to have a bid, you gotta have sponsors, and boy, does this big bid have big names: American Airlines, Air Canada, Aeromexico, Pemex, Subway, Loblaws, Comercial Mexicana, Walmart, AT&T, America Movil, Rogers Communications, Dick’s Sporting Goods, 21st Century Fox, Tim Hortons, Scotiabank (the sponsors of the CONCACAF Champions League), Banco Azteca, Bank of America, Grupo Bimbo, Chevron, and the Hudson’s Bay Company, the latter being the oldest sponsor of all, dating all the way back to May 2, 1670.
The only competition so far is Colombia. They hosted the 2011 FIFA Under-20 World Cup, World Games 2013 and the 2016 FIFA Futsal World Cup. Morocco is also attempting to try to have a joint bid with Portugal and Spain, while New Zealand is asking for help from Australia to get their bid off the ground. Needless to say, that’s dead in the water.
The only real issue for the North American bid is that of Canada because of their artificial surfaces, which was a massive talking point by the highly vocal USA Women’s National Team, who recently got a big break in terms of getting proper pay. However, if all goes as expected, this ship will sail and North America will get its chance to deliver like they have done a dozen times before…in less than a decade from now. The time has come for the power of North American Strength to come together as one and make the FIFA World Cup great again.