North American 2026 World Cup bid plans three-nation opening day
The North American bid to host the 2026 World Cup wants to play one opening game in each of the United States, Canada and Mexico on the first day of the tournament.
The United Bid Committee published its full 530-page bid book on Monday, and featured proposals for the full schedule and potential stadium locations.
The bid group's initial plan was for the U.S. to host 60 of the 80 games, including the opener and all matches from the quarterfinals onward -- which was at first met with skepticism in Mexico.
But after some recent global resistance to the plans as well, the bid has played up the unity between the counties -- while downplaying the U.S.'s prominence -- and an unprecedented three-game, three-nation opening day would follow that theme.
"Imagine the opening day of the 2026 FIFA World Cup. Three games across three countries -- Canada, Mexico and the United States -- with huge FIFA Fan Fests in each host city and across North America," the countries' federation presidents said in a statement on Tuesday.
"It would be an opening day like no other, and it's what we have proposed in our historic United Bid. It's another example of how, as we discussed in our last letter to you, our bid can be counted on to deliver the experience, infrastructure and resources required to successfully host the largest-ever FIFA World Cup in 2026."
The "main" opening match would be in either Mexico City or Los Angeles, the bid book said. Mexico City hosted the opener at the 1970 and 1986 World Cups, while L.A. also hosted it in nearby Pasadena in 1994. However, Los Angeles' part in the bid at all remains in doubt after the city council last month expressed concerns with FIFA's requirements.
The plan for the U.S. to host every game from the quarterfinals remains, however. The bid book proposal calls for Mexico and Canada to each host seven group-stage games, two matches in the round of 32, and one in the round of 16.
The bid also proposed for the final the 84-953 capacity MetLife Stadium in East Rutherford, New Jersey -- just outside of New York City -- as well as Atlanta's Mercedes-Benz Stadium and Dallas' AT&T Stadium for the semifinals.
Under consideration for the quarterfinals are Baltimore, Cincinnati, Denver, Foxborough, Houston, Kansas City, Miami, Nashville, Orlando, Philadelphia, Santa Clara, Seattle and Washington.
The proposal said the knockout matches would follow a "general flow from west to east," and that no stadium would host more than seven games.
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