US, Mexico and Canada Join Forces to Bid for FIFA 2026 World Cup

FIFA World Cup trophy soccer (Paolo Bruno / Getty)
Paolo Bruno / Getty

The North American soccer ruling body will announce Monday that the United States, Mexico and Canada will make a bid to host jointly the FIFA 2026 World Cup.

At the recent Confederation of North, Central America and Caribbean Association Football (CONACAF) governing body for soccer held in Aruba, the 41-member continent-wide organization gave their blessing for a bid by its three largest members to jointly host the 2026 Fédération Internationale de Football Association (FIFA) World Cup.

The FIFA World Cup is by far the largest sporting event on the planet, with a 2014 global in-home television audience of 3.2 billion and over one billion enthusiasts watching the finals in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, according to data released by FIFA and Kantar Media.

FIFA reported that 5,154,386 attended FIFA Fan Fests in across Brazil during the 2014 World Cup, with Rio de Janeiro’s Copacabana site attracting 937,330 attendees. The World Cup also attracted a digital audience with 280 million fans that viewed games online and on mobile devices.

That compares to Neilsen Ratings estimate that 111.3 million people viewed the National Football League’s 2017 Super Bowl on TV, and the 48.3 million people interacted on social media.

World Cup joint bids to share facilities, and hedge the hosting costs of the event that is held every four years, have become common after South Korea and Japan made partnered a bid in 1996 that won the right to host the 2002 World Cup.

A Havard study of event hosting costs found that every nation lost money since the 1894 revival of the Olympic Games by France’s Baron Pierre de Coubertin and the 1930 inaugural FIFA soccer tournament held in Uraguay, except for the 1984 Los Angeles Olympics. Recent examples of extreme financial losses include:

  • The 1976 Montreal Summer Olympics was supposed to cost $150 million, but the total cost to the city came in at $1.2 billion.
  • The 1992 Barcelona Olympics cost about $10.7 billion, a 266 percent costoverrun.
  • The 2002 World Cup cost Japan $4.5 billion to build seven new stadiums and refurbish three; while the cost to South Korea to built ten new stadiums was $2 billion. Both nations now have little use for the huge facilities.
  • The 2004 Athens Olympics cost about 9.3 billion a cost overrun of 49 percent that that virtually bankrupt the timy natio.
  • The 2008 Beijing Olympics cost about $43 billion, mostly to build 21 extavagant facilities that essentially have no current use.
  • The 2010 World Cup required South Africa to build 5 new stadiums and upgrade 5 more; but combined with selling about a third less tickets than expected resulted in about a $5.4 billion.
  • The Brazil 2014 World Cup had a cost overrun of 75 percent, or $2.7 billion, to build and refurbish 12 stadiums.

According to David Goldblatt’s book The Games: A Global History of the Olympics, the reason that the 1984 L.A. Olympics resulted in a profit is that the private sector organization committee led by businessman Peter Ueberroth that led the local organizing committee refused to build any new opulent facilities and negotiated a great TV contract.

ESPN FC reported earlier last week that the United States, Mexico and Canada would make a joint-bid that would “rise above politics” to host the 2026 World Cup in an expanded 48-game tournament. With the 3 nations sharing their most competitive facilities, the joint venture should be able to drastically reduce the hosting costs.

FIFA is expected to set 2026 World Cup tournament hosting requirements at its Congress meeting in Bahrain on the 11th of May, and make its final award determination in May 2020.


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