The news that the CONCACAF 2026 World Cup bid would be a joint three-country effort from the United States, Mexico, and Canada broke officially on Monday, and already the reactions are coming in from all over. Headlining is, of course and unfortunately, Donald Trump, who, despite his oft-repeated negative stance towards Mexico, apparently supports the bid to bring soccer’s biggest tournament back (in part) to the United States for the first time since 1994.
That’s according to the United States Soccer Federation president Sunil Gulati, who spoke specifically about Trump’s impact on the bid at the press conference announcing the collaboration. “We have very specifically addressed this with the president,” Gulati said. “He is fully supportive of the joint bid, encouraged the joint bid, and is especially pleased with the fact Mexico is participating in the joint bid.”
That feels like an uncharacteristic about-face for Trump, who still stands by his claim that not only will there be a border wall built between the United States and its southern neighbors, but also that Mexico will be paying for the wall. Mexican president Enrique Pena Nieto, in a move screaming “hell no,” recently canceled a trip to visit Trump in Washington (and, surprisingly, not at Mar-A-Lago) over Trump’s insistence that Mexico ponies up the funds to build his wall.
On the other side of the border, however, unsatisfied rumblings are beginning to come out of Mexico’s soccer establishment. One of the problems rising out of the bid is that it, fundamentally, is a United States bid with guest spots by its neighbors on either side. According to Gulati, 60 games will be played within the continental U.S., while Canada and Mexico will each get just 10 games.
Tigres manager Ricardo “Tuca” Ferretti stated on Monday that he believes Mexico doesn’t need the United States to host its own World Cup, as evidenced by both 1986 and 1970 editions that were held there. He notes that Mexican stadiums are bigger, soccer is more popular there, and that the two previous World Cups held in Mexico were among the best tournaments ever. TV Azteca’s Gerardo Velasquez called the 10 games alloted to Mexico “an embarrassment,” and said that this proves “that the real giant in CONCACAF is the United States and not Mexico.”
For their part, no public Canadian figure has spoken out against the bid; it’s likely that, given their weaker soccer history, the neighbors to the north are just happy to have an automatic qualifying spot for the 2026 World Cup lined up, if the bid is accepted.
While the symbolism of unity is strong with a joint bid, it feels that the United States just wanted to get a little more oomph behind their bid in order to get it accepted by FIFA. As it stands, they are the clear frontrunner to be awarded the tournament; every other federation (aside from Oceania) has hosted a World Cup since CONCACAF last hosted one, the aforementioned 1994 edition.