US, Mexico and Canada to make joint bid for 2026 World Cup

CONCACAF President Victor Montagliani, left, and CONMEBOL President Alejandro Dominguez hold a press conference to discuss the 100th anniversary of the Copa America soccer tournament, Friday June 24, 2016, in New York. The final between Argentina and Chile is set for Sunday, June 26 at MetLife Stadium in East Rutherford, N.J. (AP Photo/Bebeto Matthews)

NEW YORK (AP) — The United States, Mexico and Canada are going to announce a joint bid for the 2026 World Cup on Monday, a person familiar with the decision said.

The Confederation of North and Central America and Caribbean Association Football is moving ahead with the bid that was widely expected before Donald Trump was elected president. There has been concern the plan was unworkable under Trump’s anti-immigrant policies, but even if he serves a second term Trump would not be president in 2026.

The confederation made the final decision to go ahead with the bid at its meeting Saturday in Aruba, the person said, speaking on condition of anonymity because the bid will not formally be announced until Monday in Manhattan. In a news release, CONCACAF said the countries will be making a “historic announcement.”

The hosting rights are set to be decided in May 2020 — during Trump’s potential re-election campaign.

CONCACAF has not hosted the World Cup since the tournament was played at nine U.S. venues in 1994, and the region appears to be the leading contender for 2026, when soccer’s premier event expands from 32 nations to 48.

“I think now that there is the potential of 48 teams then a three-nation tournament can happen,” former U.S. forward and ESPN analyst Taylor Twellman said. “Does the U.S. need the other two? No, they don’t but it does make for a unique opportunity for North America to host the tournament.”

A successful North American bid appears possible. FIFA barred Europe and Asia from entering the 2026 race because those continents will have hosted the previous two tournaments. South American soccer leaders are hoping to host a centenary World Cup in 2030. And bidding experts say privately that Africa is not a realistic option this time around.

Of potential concern to other soccer federations is how many automatic bids would be awarded to the three-way host.

FIFA is considering a plan in which CONCACAF would have six automatic berths, and the three co-hosts would get three of those under the proposal. CONCACAF currently gets three automatic slots and its fourth-place team advances to a playoff for another.

In 2010, the United States lost in bids to host the 2018 (Russia) and ’22 (Qatar) World Cups, a process discredited by corruption allegations linked to the bidding.

The fallout from the two FIFA executive committee votes included the ouster of president Sepp Blatter and the criminal indictments in the U.S. of more than 40 people. Probes of FIFA corruption are still underway in the U.S. and Switzerland.

The 2026 bid vote will be taken by the entire FIFA membership.

Sunil Gulati, a FIFA executive committee member who is also president of the U.S. Soccer Federation, had said the U.S. would have to see changes in the bidding process before participating again.

More should be known in May. FIFA has said it “defined a set of principles for countries to bid” with new emphasis on human rights compliance and inclusion of only bidders that meet technical requirements.

The rules should be announced around its annual congress, on May 11 in Manama, Bahrain.

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