Newspaper article The Canadian Press

World Cup 2026: A Primer on the Expanded Tournament Coming to North America

Newspaper article The Canadian Press

World Cup 2026: A Primer on the Expanded Tournament Coming to North America

Article excerpt

World Cup: A primer on the 2026 showcase

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The 2026 World Cup has been awarded to Canada, the U.S. and Mexico. FIFA, the world governing body of soccer, now takes over the tournament, working with the three countries.

A look at some questions surrounding the men's soccer showcase:

Is Canada guaranteed three host cities?

Edmonton (Commonwealth Stadium), Montreal (Olympic Stadium) and Toronto (BMO Field) were among the 23 candidate host cities in the North American bid book with FIFA expected to select up to 16 cities. Canadian officials say they will push to keep all three of their host cities. The bid group has been working under the premise of three cities in each of Canada and Mexico and 10 in the U.S.

Bid officials are keen on the idea of having three games back-to-back-to-back on the opening day of the tournament, using BMO Field, Mexico City's Azteca Stadium and the Rose Bowl in Pasadena, Calif.

That could mean more than 220,000 spectators on Day 1, given the bid group's stadium capacity estimates include expanding BMO Field to 45,500.

Will Canada get automatic entry as co-host?

There has been no formal announcement yet that the three co-host countries will skip qualifying, as has been the tournament custom. But all signs point to yes, especially with the field expanded to 48 teams from 32.

Peter Montopoli, general secretary of the Canadian Soccer Association and Canada's bid director, and U.S. Soccer Federation president Carlos Cordeiro said the issue of automatic qualification is a FIFA decision which will come later.

But FIFA president Gianni Infantino said CONCACAF, the governing body of soccer for North and Centreal America and the Caribbean, will have seven slots in 2026, and it will be up to CONCACAF to decide how to deploy them.

CONCACAF got 3 1/2 entries for the 2018 World Cup, which has 32 entries. The top three teams in the final round of qualifying -- Mexico, Costa Rica and Panama -- booked their ticket to Russia while No. 4 Honduras lost an inter-confederation playoff with Australia 3-1 on aggregate.

With CONCACAF president Victor Montagliani a Canadian who was a key player in the successful bid and FIFA looking to sell as many tickets as possible, look for the host countries to be front and centre. …

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