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2026 World Cup could have up to four co-hosts

We could see a bid combining up to four nations.

Preliminary Draw of the 2018 FIFA World Cup in Russia Photo by Dennis Grombkowski/Getty Images

The 2026 FIFA World Cup will be unlike anything we’ve ever seen before. The world’s greatest sporting event will undergo some very drastic changes that include expanding to 48 teams and a reduction in the number of group participants to three. While we know now what the tournament will look like (for the most part), we still don’t know where it will be held.

CONCACAF has been a hot topic of discussion for the executives around the FIFA landscape. While nothing official has been stated, it’s widely expected that the United States will bid for the tournament in some fashion. Most believe their bid will involve a joint effort that would include Canada and even possibly Mexico. However, CONCACAF President, Victor Montagliani, hasn’t ruled out expanding the bid to include Central American or Caribbean countries, as well.

Montagliani, when asked if an expanded tournament featuring 80 games meant there was also a possibility for some group stage games to be held in Central America or the Caribbean, said anything is possible. - via Reuters

FIFA President, Gianni Infantino, says that spreading the World Cup out over four countries would show that world soccer’s governing body ‘are reasonable’.

“We will encourage co-hosting for the World Cup because we need FIFA to show we are reasonable and we have to think about sustainability long-term,” Infantino said. “It is perfectly in line with our sustainability and legacy to maybe bring together two, three, four countries who can jointly present a project with three, four, five stadiums each. We will certainly encourage it. Ideally the countries will be close to each other for the sake of ease of travel.”

With the extra matches to be played, spreading the wealth of matches across several countries seems feasible on paper. Logistically speaking, it would be a tough task for FIFA to find four countries in close proximity of one another who can support the high demands of hosting a World Cup. Although, being able to spread that pressure among four different countries instead of expecting a solo host to bare the brunt of the financial strain could be beneficial. For example, if South Africa had help in 2010 or Brazil in 2014, the economic strain both felt would not have been as damaging.

If this new four co-host idea does come to fruition, North/Central America seems as good as any region to experiment with. The USA, Mexico, and Canada are all more than capable of hosting high quality international matches in bulk. The question then would become, who would the fourth co-host be?