Why Canada, Mexico fans are right to be upset with 2026 World Cup plans
Lost amid the fanfare of news that the United States, Canada, and Mexico is planning to submit a joint bid for the 2026 FIFA World Cup is a simple, unfortunate truth - this is a U.S. event; Canada and Mexico were invited to help set the tables.
How else could it be interpreted, if Canada and Mexico host just 10 matches each out of 80 - none of them from the quarter-finals onward - while the United States hosts 60, including the final and semi-final matches?
Automatic qualification rings a sweet song to Canadian ears, as dreams of Les Rouges gracing a World Cup stage for the first time since 1986 becomes reality, but for Mexico, where football is ingrained in life, in culture, in the hearts and minds of its citizens, a 10-match allocation is a slap in the face entirely.
Mexico is a nation with rich footballing tradition - arguably more so than Canada and the U.S. combined - and has successfully hosted two of the finest iterations of the tournament in 1970 and 1986.
The argument is that the United States is a logistical and infrastructural "safe bet" - its massive stadiums can host upwards of 80,000 fans across the nation, providing more people with the chance to enjoy big matches. But to say the U.S. is the only nation capable of hosting big matches is an insult to Mexico's own infrastructure, and that, too, of Canada's, though to a lesser extent.
The Azteca Stadium is one not befitting a meaningless Round of 16 tie or two; it should be made a prominent fixture in the tournament's latter stages, not reduced to the role of a front foyer. Toronto ranks among the most multicultural cities in the world - it, too, has been reduced to the role of Walmart greeter.
Canadian fans ought to be equally irate at the prospect of hosting 10 early tilts, of which there are no guarantees of quality players or teams on display, before its soccer-avid fans tune in to TSN to watch the rest of the World Cup on TV.
And while it's understandable that the U.S. is ideal for organizers looking to get the most bang for their proverbial buck when the matches heat up, it's hard not to feel as though the World Cup is only being half-awarded to Canada or Mexico, only for it to be taken away midway through the affair.
The semi-finals should have been split between Canada and Mexico, with the U.S. hosting the final. That would have been fair, if this really was a joint-bid for the tournament. But, as Mexican Football Federation (FMF) president Decio de Maria aptly put it:
"The United States does not need Mexico and Canada to host a World Cup."
Welcome to the party, guys. Don't let the door hit you on the way out.
(Photo courtesy: Action Images)
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