Just as the 2018 FIFA World Cup was getting underway in Russia, soccer's international governing body announced that the United States, along with Mexico and Canada, will jointly host the 2026 World Cup. This will be only the second time that multiple countries have hosted soccer’s biggest event (Japan and South Korea did so in 2002).
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Some have questioned how this came about while others have flat out said that the U.S. doesn’t deserve to host their portion of the event. But here are five positives to take from what will happen eight years from now.
1. Economic benefits
Millions of fans worldwide will flock to whichever U.S. cities are selected to host World Cup games. And that will bring in plenty of tourism money, which doesn’t even count ticket sales, merchandise, memorabilia, and other game-related expenses. Anything to boost the economy is always a good thing.
2. Being able to watch games at a normal time
For this year’s World Cup, and for the next one in Qatar in 2022, fans have to wake up a little earlier than usual to watch the games live. In 2026, the games will be viewable at more desirable times. Canada has some time zones that are similar to ours, while Mexico is only an hour or two behind most of the U.S. So being able to watch games in the late afternoon and prime time will be a regular occurrence, especially for those that don’t have a DVR.
3. The World Cup promotes unity
We can’t deny the fact that the United States is currently divided along political, cultural and social lines. And we all know that soccer fans can be some of the wildest sports fans in the world. But at the same time, international sporting events have shown over the years that people from all walks of life can come together to enjoy competition among the world’s best athletes while embracing one another. The 2026 World Cup will present another opportunity in this regard.
4. Team USA will automatically qualify
The United States men’s national team failed to qualify for Russia this year. Qualification for 2022 will depend on the changes that are made within U.S. Soccer. But since we’re hosting in 2026, Team USA will automatically qualify under FIFA rules. And that will be a welcome sight for American soccer fans.
5. The United States could also host the 2025 FIFA Confederations Cup
This event is held the year before the World Cup. The U.S., Mexico and Canada have played in this event a combined 12 times. One of these countries will be eligible to host the Confederations Cup as a result of hosting the 2026 World Cup. Expect the United States to make a hard push to be the Confederations Cup host in 2025.
-- Written by Gabe Salgado, who is part of the Athlon Contributor Network. He's also written for NBC, Fox, The Sporting News, The Sports Journal, The Undefeated and Complex. He's a co-host of The Rewind Sports: 60. Follow him on Twitter @GabeSalgado82.
(Top photo courtesy of @united2026)