Coming to America
Joint bid by the United States, Canada, and Mexico lands 2016 World Cup
After losing out on hosting the 2022 FIFA World Cup, the United States joined neighbors Canada and Mexico to put together a winning bid to host the tournament in the summer of 2026.
After each country considered bidding for the 2026 event individually, the three countries’ national soccer federations created the United Bid Committee to manage the combined bid. Under the agreement, Canada and Mexico will host 10 games each and the United States will host 60 games including all matches from the quarterfinals to the final at MetLife Stadium in metropolitan New York City.
The United bid was selected by 134 votes to Morocco’s 65, after the United Bid Committee promised a North American tournament would produce sell-out crowds and record revenues that will generate a record $11 billion in profits for FIFA, international soccer’s governing body, and as much as $50 million for each national association, according to The New York Times.
“Thank you for the incredible privilege,” U.S. Soccer President Carlos Cordeiro said in a short speech to FIFA members after the vote. “Football today is the only victor.”
The World Cup is easily the biggest sporting event in the world, and the benefits of the 2026 tournament will be greater than any previous edition for a number of reasons. It will be the first time the tournament will expand from 32 to 48 national teams. The addition of 16 countries will bring that many more teams and their fans. That means there will be at least 48 team base camps and hotel sites in use. The number of matches will also increase from 64 to 80, meaning there will need to be training locations and hotel sites in host cities for the teams and their followers and 16 more opportunities for host cities to benefit on packed stadiums, hotels, retail shopping centers, restaurants, and bars.
Over the course of the tournament’s 32 days, it could generate more than $5 billion in short-term economic activity, including supporting approximately 40,000 jobs and more than $1 billion in incremental worker earnings across North America, according to a U.S. Soccer sponsored study done by The Boston Consulting Group (BCG), a leading global management consulting firm. Even after factoring in potential public costs like infrastructure and stadium improvements, the net benefit is expected to be between $3 billion to $4 billion, with host cities bringing in approximately $160 million – $620 million in economic activity, with a net benefit of $90 million – $480 million per city after accounting for potential public costs based on the number of matches hosted, venue capacity, tourism levels, travel and lodging costs, and geographic location.
FIFA requires 80,000-seat stadiums for the opening match and the final, 60,000-seat stadiums for the semi-finals, and 40,000-seat stadiums for all other games. Because the North American countries chose host sites where state-of-the-art football and soccer stadiums already exist or will be completed by the tournament’s start, the 23 potential host cities will not have to spend billions on the front end in modern coliseum and infrastructure projects to accommodate the influx of fans from around the globe.
“United 2026 offers existing modern stadia with experienced management teams in each of our proposed host cities, and existing modern accommodation and integrated transport systems throughout our host cities,” said John Kristick, Executive Director of the United Bid Committee. “Our legacy is already in the ground, working, not on the drawing board giving our host cities and FIFA a level of certainty not seen in previous FIFA World Cups and allowing us to focus hosting the best event for the prosperity of FIFA.”
Morocco’s bid pledged a $5 billion profit for FIFA, less than half of the United Bid. In order to be ready for the World Cup, the country would have had to spend billions of dollars to construct nine new stadiums and make significant updates to five current structures, not to mention expanding hotels, highways, rail links and training facilities needed to host the participating teams. On top of that, they would have had less than eight years to complete the task. In previous years, FIFA has gotten a black eye in media reports due to the financial stress countries have put on themselves to get ready for the tournament only to see the facilities become useless once it ends, like Brazil 2014, and for slave-like work conditions needed to get Qatar ready for the 2022 event.
The New York Times reported that the American federation spent more than $6 million — out of a combined budget of about $8 million — to bring the World Cup back to North America
The 2016 tournament will be Mexico’s third time as host (1970, 1986), the United States’ second (1994), and Canada’s first. The Women's World Cup was held in Canada in 2015 and the United States in 1999 and 2003.
“It will be our honor to host the most extraordinary World Cup ever,” Cordeio said.
2026 FIFA World Cup Facts and Figures
|Number of Teams||48|
|Number of Matches||80|
|Number of Players||1,100+|
|Candidate Host Cites||23|
|Proposed Training Sites||150|
|Projected Revenue||$14 billion|
|Projected Profit||$11 billion|
|Projected Economic Impact||$5 billion|
Source: U.S. Soccer