The United States could again be hosting World Cup games as soon as the next decade.
Because of FIFA’s rotational policy, an attempt to “spread the wealth” geographically, countries in Europe and Asia will not be allowed to bid for the 2026 World Cup. This opens the door for the United States to bid and become the most likely candidate to host the grandest soccer tournament in the world. The last time the U.S. hosted the World Cup was 1994.
It is possible that the U.S. could put in a joint bid with Canada and Mexico, making it a “North American World Cup.” The reason why FIFA may opt to go the continent route is because the World Cup is expected to expand its field in 2026 to 40 or possibly even 48 countries. By giving multiple countries the World Cup it would also lessen the financial blow for hosts.
As for the expansion, a 40 team tourney would consist of eight groups of five teams or 10 groups of four teams. If the tournament expanded to 48 teams it would features 16 seeds and 32 winners of a playoff round, according to the BBC.
Concerns of play being watered down with so many teams are real, but FIFA president Gianni Infantinobelieves having so many teams involve would help grow the sport.
“When a team qualifies for [the World Cup], the whole country is in futbol euphoria,” Infantinotold the BBC. “More youngsters want to play the game, companies want to get involved in sponsorship and benefits to football as a whole are immense.
“In a 48-team format, the quality would be higher because the 32 teams would have a playoff. The quality would improve and not decrease in any way.”