Five Things to Know: Unified 2026 World Cup Bid

Learn more about Monday's announcement that U.S. Soccer, Canada Soccer and Federación Mexicana de Futbol will submit a unified bid to host the 2026 FIFA World Cup

On Monday, the Federations of the United States, Canada and Mexico submitted an historic unified bid to host the 2026 FIFA World Cup.

Here are five things you should know about the North American World Cup bid.

The Bid

On April 10, 2017, the United States Soccer Federation (USSF), along with the Canadian Soccer Association (CSA) and Federación Mexicana de Fútbol (FMF) announced their intention to submit a unified bid to host the 2026 FIFA World Cup throughout North America.

Should the bid be successful, the tournament would mark the first FIFA World Cup to be hosted in three nations and second to be co-hosted after the 2002 tournament in Korea Republic and Japan.

A History of Hosting World-Class Events

Combined, the USA, Canada and Mexico have successfully hosted 13 FIFA events, which is the most of any trio of geographically connected nations in the world. That figure includes six different FIFA World Cups (three Men’s and three Women’s) as well as six youth World Cups and the FIFA Confederations Cup.

Along with holding current attendance records for the FIFA Confederations Cup and U-17 World Cup, Mexico also set then record figures when it hosted both the 1970 and 1986 FIFA World Cups. The 1994 FIFA World Cup in the United States surpassed those marks and holds still-standing records in both average (68,991) and overall attendance (3,587,538). The overall attendance record is made more impressive considering the 24-team tournament included only 52 matches, compared to the 32 sides and 64 games that have made up the five editions since.

Tournament

Host

Milestone Notes

1970 FIFA World Cup

Mexico

First World Cup to average over 50,000 fans

1983 FIFA World Youth Championship

Mexico

--

1986 FIFA World Cup

Mexico

--

1987 FIFA U-16 World Championship

Canada

--

1994 FIFA World Cup

USA

Record overall and average attendance

1999 FIFA Women’s World Cup

USA

Record average attendance

1999 FIFA Confederations Cup

Mexico

Record overall and average attendance

2002 FIFA U-19 Women’s World Championship

Canada

--

2003 FIFA Women’s World Cup

USA

--

2007 FIFA U-20 World Cup

Canada

--

2011 FIFA U-17 World Cup

Mexico

Record overall attendance

2014 FIFA U-20 Women’s World Cup

Canada

--

2015 FIFA Women’s World Cup

Canada

Record overall attendance; Record non-FIFA World Cup attendance

Additionally, the memorable 1999 FIFA Women’s World Cup still holds the record for highest average attendance for that tournament with 37,319 per match. At 1,194,215, the 16-team tournament also held the overall attendance record until 2015, when the expanded 24-team FIFA Women’s World Cup in Canada took the figure to 1,353,506 total spectators – a record for any FIFA tournament outside the men’s World Cup.

Most Recent Success 

The 2016 Copa America Centenario most recently proved the USA’s hosting chops. Taking place in 10 venues across the country last summer, the tournament witnessed an overall attendance of nearly 1.5 million fans, with the 32 matches welcoming an average of 46,00 spectators per game, setting tournament records in both categories. 

Why a Unified Bid?

As seen above, the North American trio of nations has been well-tested and delivered when it comes to hosting big-time FIFA events. A unified bid between the USA, Canada and Mexico reflects the growth of the game in the CONCACAF region as well as the newly expanded 48-team tournament field, which will make its debut at the 2026 FIFA World Cup.

"This is a milestone day for U.S. Soccer and for CONCACAF,” U.S. Soccer President Sunil Gulati said. “We gave careful consideration to the prospect of bidding for the 2026 FIFA World Cup, and ultimately feel strongly this is the right thing for our region and for our sport. Along with our partners from the Canada Soccer Association and the Federación Mexicana de Fútbol, we are confident that we will submit an exemplary bid worthy of bringing the FIFA World Cup back to North America. The United States, Mexico and Canada have individually demonstrated their exceptional abilities to host world-class events. When our nations come together as one, as we will for 2026, there is no question the United States, Mexico and Canada will deliver an experience that will celebrate the game and serve players, supporters and partners alike.”

Format Details

While Gulati stressed the main goal for the three governing bodies was to first work towards earning the 2026 FIFA World Cup, he did lay out some of the basic details for the potential tournament in North America. 

The 48-team competition will comprise a total of 80 games, with 60 to be held in the United States and an additional 10 each in Canada and Mexico. The proposed format would also see the USA host all games from the Quarterfinals to the Final.