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Canada changes its tune about 2026

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Post-Christmas, Canadian Soccer Association and CONCACAF President Victor Montagliani told the media that he was “open” to the idea of a joint bid between Canada, the United States and Mexico for the 2026 World Cup.

This is in stark contrast to the hard line taken by the CSA when it rst announced its intention to host the 2026 mundial, something we extensively covered back in Plastic Pitch No. 2. Back then, the CSA was clear that it did not want to co-host the tournament; that, if the bid was successful, all of the World Cup 2026 matches would take place in Canadian stadiums.

“It’s a single bid,” said CSA Secretary General Peter Montopoli back in 2014. “It’s Canada, at this moment. It’s Canada, the Canadian Soccer Association that will be bidding, and we will continue along that line. There really have been no discussions on joint bids, either Mexico or the United States. It’s not a position we’re taking. It is a straight bid from the Canadian Soccer Association.”

So why has Canada’s position softened?

THIS STORY ORIGINALLY APPEARED IN PLASTIC PITCH #11

Quantity is the likely reason — as in, the number of teams expected to play in the World Cup by the time 2026 rolls around. FIFA President Gianni Infantino has enthusiastically backed expanding the World Cup from the current stable of 32 teams to 48 teams.

If the World Cup is a 48-team (or more) tournament in 2026, compared to 32 teams as it stood in 2014, that means more games, more stadiums needed, more strain on transport and infrastructure. To host at 2026 World Cup at 32 teams, Canada would have needed to spend money to build or renovate stadiums from coast to coast. A 48-team tournament represents a much higher bill.

But, a three-nation bid, if successful, would create a lot of issues. Even if CONCACAF gets more slots in a 48-team tournament, it’s a lot to ask of a region to have three teams automatically qualify as hosts. Yes, Mexico is pretty well an automatic (we can’t say the same about the United States as it recently lost its first two games of the Hex), but the optics of three host teams aren’t great.

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