United States Plans To Submit Joint Bid For 2026 FIFA World Cup With Canada & Mexico
The United States could host matches in the final stages of the FIFA World Cup in 2026 for the first time since 1994, or the entire tournament could take place in Morocco.
U.S. Soccer announced back in April that they would be submitting a joint bid, along with the soccer federations of Canada and Mexico, to host the 2026 FIFA World Cup. All of the matches from the Quarterfinals on would take place in the U.S. 10 early-stage matches would take place each in Canada and Mexico. A total of 60 matches would take place in the U.S.
The 2026 tournament will be the first to feature an expanded 48-team field.
Reports just after the announcement were optimistic that FIFA would forgo its normal World Cup bidding process to the North American bid. With Russia hosting the 2018 tournament and Qatar hosting in 2022, FIFA ruled that Europe and Asian countries are ineligible to submit bids to host in 2026.
If for some reason the bids submitted were deemed insufficient by FIFA, European and Asian countries would then be able to submit bids.
FIFA has now announced that they will open up the bidding process for countries to submit bids until August 11, 2017.
Reports first surfaced in March that King Mohamed VI of Morocco was seeking to partner with Spain and Portugal to submit a bid for the 2026 tournament. The countries would possibly seek to use the election of President Donald Trump in the United States against the North American bid.
The Morocco/Spain/Portugal plan would very likely not be eligible, according to FIFA rules. Morocco has maintained that they have the ability to host a tournament without any partner nations.
Morocco submitted bids to host the World Cup in 1994, 1998, 2006 and 2010. The country’s bid failed each time.
FIFA, soccer’s world governing body, is seeking to remake its image after a massive corruption scandal under former president Sepp Blatter. Seven former soccer officials and one marketing executive are set to go on trial in the U.S. later this year.
A World Cup In Qatar?
FIFA’s awarding of the 2022 World Cup to Qatar back in 2010 set the wheels in motion on the corruption scandal. Many people just saw no other way the tiny Persian country of 2 million people could have won the tournament.
Everything about the Qatar World Cup has been a disaster.
The use of slave labor to build the infrastructure needed for the tournament was spotlighted by Amnesty International.
Some of the “cities” set to host games don’t even exist yet. Lusail Stadium, the 80,000-seat stadium set to host the final match, is being built in the middle of the desert. It will eventually be part of a city being built for an estimated $45 billion.
An estimated $18 billion is being spent on a light rail system that will connect fans to these cities and stadiums.
Instead of taking place in June and July, as has been the custom, the Qatar tournament will take place over 28 days in November and December. June and July in Qatar mean normal high temperatures above 105° F.
The host country’s national team receives an automatic bid into the World Cup. 2022 will likely be the first year the Qatari national team will play in the World Cup. It lost to Uzbekistan in the qualifying rounds for the 2018 World Cup. Qatar would need everything to go its way and win a playoff in order to qualify for Russia.
The United States last hosted the World Cup back in 1994. Brazil beat Italy in the final match at the Rose Bowl in Pasadena, California.
When FIFA awarded the U.S. the ’94 tournament in 1998, it did so over bids from Morocco and Brazil. At the time the U.S. national team hadn’t qualified for the World Cup since 1950.
St. Louis And The USMNT
That 1950 U.S. team featured five St. Louisans; Frank Borghi, Charlie Colombo, Harry Keough, Gino Pariani and Frank Wallace. The USMNT over England in the tournament was the inspiration for the film The Game of Their Lives.
The United States would qualify for the 1990 World Cup in front of 35,000 people in Trinidad on November 19, 1989. Paul Caliguri’s goal gave the U.S. the points necessary to qualify after it had played El Salvador to a scoreless draw earlier that month.
That match against El Salvador was played at Saint Louis Soccer Park outside of St. Louis.
Saint Louis Soccer Park served as somewhat of a home base for the U.S. National Team during that time. It also played games at Soccer Park in August 1988 and April 1989 on its way to qualifying for the World Cup in Italy.
In attempting to qualify for the 1986 World Cup in Argentina the USMNT played two games at Soccer Park, then known as Busch Soccer Park.
The only way St. Louis could host a match during the 2026 World Cup would be by building a new outdoor stadium. The USMNT has outgrown the friendly confines of Soccer Park and Busch Stadium wouldn’t allow for the necessary configurations.
Will St. Louis Be Represented In 2026?
It is very likely that a St. Louisan could be on the roster, however. It’s way too early to speculate on a roster for the tournament, but history is on our city’s side.
St. Louis was, of course well-represented on that 1950 team. Steve Trittschuh represented the area on the 1990 team. Mike Sorber was on the 1994 team. Brian McBride, who played his college soccer at Saint Louis University, was on the 1998, 2002 and 2006 teams.
St. Louisan Tim Ream is currently a member of the National Team and Pat Noonan serves as an assistant coach.
That 1998 squad also included Predrag Radosavljević, the current coach of Saint Louis FC.
St. Louisan Josh Sargent was recently named to the U.S. roster for the 2017 U-20 World Cup beginning May 20. He captained the U-17 U.S. team earlier this month in qualifying for the U-17 World Cup later this year.
Could a 26-year old St. Louisan be the key to a U.S. run at the 2026 World Cup on its home soil?
It’s way too early to tell.
FIFA isn’t expected to announced the host of the 2026 World Cup until May 2020.
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