Tuesday 19 December 2017 / 03:49 AM

USA, CANADA & MEXICO LAUNCH JOINT 2026 WORLD CUP BID

After rumours of each nation bidding individually, Canada, USA and Mexico have launched a joint bid to host the 2026 FIFA World Cup.

The announcement was made at a press conference in New York by the federations of the three countries.

If the bid is successful, it will the first-ever World Cup with three host nations. Indeed, there has only been one previous World Cup that was co-hosted, the 2002 edition in South Korea and Japan.

At this stage, it is the only official bid for what will be the 23rd edition of the biggest single-sport event in the world. FIFA won’t hold a ballot for the 209 member nations to vote on until 2020. That is three years later than originally scheduled. The delay is because of the investigations into corruption behind the awarding of the 2018 and 2022 World Cups, including the dismissal of long-time boss Sepp Blatter.

The bid looks a strong one with USA having hosted in 1994, while Mexico has twice hosted before and Canada hosted the Women’s World Cup in 2015.

FIFA has a rotation policy meaning European and Asian countries are out of the running but Australia, Africa and South America can put forward their bid.

There has been some interest from Colombia, Ecuador and Peru to put in a joint-bid too, however nothing official has materialised yet.

The 2026 tournament will be the first World Cup with 48 teams competing, an expansion from 32 teams announced by FIFA in January which was the first significant influence of new president Gianni Infantino. Multiple hosts could very well be the trend of the future because more venues will be required for more matches.

There is obvious political tension that has been in the news of late with President Donald Trump’s aggressive immigration policy and infamously promising to build a wall on the US-Mexico border. But US Soccer Federation president Sunil Gulati allayed fears by saying President Trump is fully supportive and “especially pleased that Mexico is part of this bid”.

One way or another, Donald Trump won’t even be president in 2026 as USA has a two-term limit for its leaders.

In further World Cup news, the committee responsible for organising the 2022 World Cup in Qatar has announced the original budget has been reduced by at least 40%.

The new budget of between $8 and $10 billion will see the original plan of 12 stadiums reduced to just eight – the minimum required under FIFA regulations.

The plan is for seven stadiums to be built from scratch while the eighth will be an upgraded version of an already existing stadium.

Chief official Hassan Al Thawadi was adamant the reasons for the budget cuts are more about financial responsibility rather than the slump in oil and gas prices. “It’s been a fiscal responsibility and not as a result of oil prices going down. It’s a commitment we’ve made from day one”, he said.

If the eight-stadium proposal gets approval by FIFA, it will be least number of stadiums at a World Cup since Argentina’s six stadiums in 1978.

The 2018 World Cup will be hosted by Russia.

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Farhan Shah

A recent addition to the roster, Melburnian Farhan is a sports nut who has come on board to provide golf, tennis, AFL and rugby league coverage for CBS.

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