US, Mexico, Canada may co-host 2026 Cup

File photo of the World Cup trophy at the Fifa World Football Museum. The first 48-team World Cup may be jointly hosted by the US, Mexico and Canada.
File photo of the World Cup trophy at the Fifa World Football Museum. The first 48-team World Cup may be jointly hosted by the US, Mexico and Canada.PHOTO: AFP

ZURICH • The first 48-team World Cup may be jointly hosted by the US, Mexico and Canada after Fifa agreed that the tournament will be expanded from 2026.

Victor Montagliani, the president of the Concacaf federation that covers North and Central America, said a three-way hosting arrangement was "definitely a possibility" and that spreading the burden of staging an expanded tournament made sense.

He also insisted that the United States and Mexico could overcome possible bad blood over incoming president Donald Trump's statements about building a wall between the countries to allow co-hosting.

"Football can trump politics - no pun intended," he said.

Fifa has said that Europe and Asia cannot bid for the 2026 World Cup, and there appears little appetite for any country in Africa, including South Africa, to host the event that year.

Asked about a three-way hosting arrangement, Montagliani said: "This is an opportunity for Concacaf. In some regions, not only does co-hosting make more sense, it's the only sense, because it's not just the 48 teams, it's the training facilities, it's all the other infrastructure that's required."

He said the Fifa Council's decision had been based on proper analysis.

The distribution of the extra places will be decided before May but senior Fifa members have told The Times of London that a consensus has emerged that would result in Europe having 16 places instead of 13. Africa stands to go from five spots to nine and Asia from 41/2 to 81/2. Fifa may also decide that host nations will be included in the allocation.

One looming problem with having the 16 groups of three teams is the increased chances for the result in final group matches to be contrived to send both participants through at the expense of the team who are not playing.

One proposal is for drawn group matches to be decided by a penalty shoot-out, although rankings could also be used.

Fifa president Gianni Infantino said: "It's good to have certainty of a result determined on the pitch rather than raising question marks about 'Are they agreeing a draw'?"

THE TIMES, LONDON

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on January 12, 2017, with the headline 'US, Mexico, Canada may co-host 2026 Cup'. Print Edition | Subscribe