For the first time ever, the World Cup — the biggest event for the world’s most popular sport — could be played in three countries.
Typically, one country is selected to host the wildly popular global soccer tournament, which is played every four years. But with the World Cup expanding in 2026, the United States, Mexico and Canada announced a joint proposal to host the tournament’s 80 matches.
FIFA, the international soccer governing body, will make a decision in 2020 on where the 2026 World Cup will be held.
JUST IN: US Soccer: US, Canada and Mexico declare "their intention to formally submit a unified bid to host the 2026 FIFA World Cup." pic.twitter.com/WoGBDFPzTb
— NBC Nightly News (@NBCNightlyNews) April 10, 2017
“We believe this is a hugely positive signal and symbol of what we can do together in unifying people,” U.S. Soccer Federation President Sunil Gulati said.
Decio de María, president of the Mexican Football Federation, said it was a source of pride to join the U.S. and Canada as candidates. He noted that if the proposal is accepted, Mexico would be the first country to have hosted three World Cups. Mexico hosted in 1970 and 1986.
If their bid is approved, the U.S. would stage 60 games while Mexico and Canada would host 10 games each. The U.S. hosted an attendance-record-shattering World Cup in 1994, and Mexico City could bring 87,000 people to its historic Azteca Stadium for the opener.
In addition to its Azteca Stadium, Mexico offers futuristic venues in Monterrey and Guadalajara.
Canada looks to host 56,000 for games in Commonwealth Stadium in Alberta, which was renovated ahead of the 2015 Women’s World Cup.
The 2014 FIFA World Cup in Brazil reached 3.2 billion television viewers worldwide. The 2026 World Cup will be the first tournament under FIFA’s expansion of the field from 32 nations to 48.
With 80 games throughout three countries, there will be plenty to explore.
This article draws on reports from the Associated Press.