Late last week it was announced by CONCACAF that U.S. Soccer, Mexican Football Federation and the Canadian Football Federation would make a ‘historic announcement’ today, Monday April 10th. There was no need for guessing. We all knew that the U.S., Mexican and Canadian officials would be coming in front of the microphones and cameras to tell the world that they are planning to submit a bid to host the 2026 FIFA World Cup.
The soccer suits did not disappoint. They did in fact come in front of microphones and cameras and told the world that they planned to bid for the 2026 World Cup. After hearing the details of the bid, does the word ‘historic’ still fit? There has never been a World Cup with three host nations before, so by that standard, yes, this is in fact ‘historic’. In fact of the 20 World Cups played until now and the the next two which are already awarded hosts, only once has there been multiple hosts. This came back in 2002 when both Japan and South Korea both hosted the world’s most important sporting competition.
CONCACAF wants to become the first confederation to have a World Cup with three different host countries. But the closer we look at the details the more it just seems like it is a USA bid with a Mexico and Canada just tagging along for a ride. The United States would host 60 of the 80 World Cup matches including all matches from quarterfinals through the final. Mexico and Canada would each host 10 matches each.
Mexican soccer is already being dragged down by CONCACAF by not being able to send clubs to participate in Conmebol’s Copa Sudamericana and Copa Libertadores and now this ‘historic’World Cup bid is only dragging Mexico further down into the confederation’s mediocrity.
Looking at the stadiums that Mexican has available, Estadio Azteca, Estadio BBVA Bancomer, Estadio TSM, Estadio Cuauhtemoc, Estadio Nemezio Diez, Estadio Chivas, and Estadio Caliente are all World Cup quality stadiums. Estadio Jalisco, Estadio Corregidora and Ciudad Univewrsitaria are all capable of hosting as well. Now what’s the point of being a host nation of a World Cup if you won’t be able to bring World Cup soccer to all of your people? Why waste this generation’s only shot at hosting a World Cup by jumping on the U.S. train?
US Soccer is using Mexico and Canada to strengthen their World Cup bid while Mexico and Canada are selling out their people. The fact that the U.S. is looking to strengthen their bid should be clear signs of weakness at the negotiating table. Mexican Federation President Decio de Maria negotiated a horrible deal for Mexico. He needed to demand more matches to be played on Mexican soil. If the U.S. did not concede then it would’ve been time for de Maria to walk away and let the Americans try and bid for this World Cup on their own.
Another negotiating option for De Maria could have been the upcoming Copa America tournaments. Based on the success of last year’s Copa America Centenario, South American officials and Concacaf officials are already planning another competition between both Americas. Of course the host is the United States. But with Mexico stepping in and helping USA (and Concacaf) with the World Cup bid, a smart negotiator could’ve leveraged the right to host the next Copa America instead of the United States. Having Lionel Messi, Neymar, James Rodriguez and all of the South American stars compete in a tournament in Mexico would be an acceptable trade-off for such a horrendous deal in the World Cup.
Beyond the ‘slap in the face’that is the numbers of how many matches Mexico would host, their is another world of bad news for the football of Mexico. By being an official host, Mexico would not participate in World Cup qualifying. As it stands the qualification processes was turned into a joke by the amount of teams that will participate in the 2026 edition. But now Mexico would have no need to play a competitive match outside of the Gold Cup.
With no competitive matches needed to be played, Mexican officials will be too tempted to reach out to Soccer United Marketing to organize even more money-grabbing meaningless friendly matches in the United States. The relationship between Mexico’s federation and SUM has brought a big decline in the quality of Mexico’s National Team. A decline that Liga MX teams try to fight by encouraging youth player production and player exports to Europe. But even the club’s efforts might not be strong enough to fight a whole World Cup cycle with no urgency to qualify to the World Cup.
Talent-wise, Mexico is the powerhouse in CONCACAF but they never stand up and give themselves the importance they deserve. Mexican soccer is once again manipulated into the wises of US Soccer and CONCACAF.