FIFA isn’t quite ready to award the 2026 World Cup to North America, but that outcome seems inevitable. At meetings in Bahrain, FIFA’s ruling council recommended allowing three more months for rival bids to come forward. The U.S.-Mexico-Canada effort had pushed for a fast-track decision this week.
Realistically, however, no other substantial bids are likely to enter the race. Europe and Asia are ineligible because Russia and Qatar will host the next two World Cups. Oceania (namely, New Zealand) isn’t in position for the expanded, 48-team competition. South America is focused on the 2030 tournament, which falls on the 100th anniversary of Uruguay hosting the first World Cup. And Africa’s only hope, it appears, is Morocco, which would be hard-pressed to handle such a large event.
FIFA said it plans to select the 2026 host at next summer’s Congress in Moscow — two years earlier than initially planned.
“For us, the most important thing was having an expedited process rather than a two- or three-year [bidding] process, and the council agreed with that,” U.S. Soccer Federation President Sunil Gulati said, according to the Associated Press. “We are happy to have competition because we are fully confident in the bid we can put together and the sort of World Cup we can put on.”
The United States would host 60 matches, and Mexico and Canada 10 apiece. Every match from the quarterfinals onward would take place at U.S. venues. Not fair to Mexico and Canada? They didn’t have any leverage; the United States could win the hosting rights without them.
If, by some remote chance, the North American bid package fails to meet standards and requirements outlined by FIFA, every confederation would have an opportunity to submit a bid.