United 2026 should be a ‘more financially viable’ World Cup

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The 2026 World Cup in Canada, Mexico and the United States should be “more financially viable” than Qatar 2022 and other recent tournaments, say researchers from the University of York.

FIFA announced the United bid comfortably beat that of rivals Morocco at its congress in Moscow on Wednesday, winning 67 per cent of the 203 votes cast.

“Awarding the World Cup to Canada, the US and Mexico represents a large and potentially complex project – spread between three countries,” Dr Alex Gillett from the University of York’s Management School told Press Association Sport.

“Other recent and planned World Cups however, such as South Africa 2010, Brazil 2014 or Qatar 2022, all required expensive and financially risky stadium and infrastructure investments from their hosts.

“In contrast, the Canada, US and Mexico World Cup should present less difficulties to its organisers and to FIFA because existing stadiums should be usable with a few adjustments.

“Our research shows that the World Cups that make do and mend existing stadiums appear to be more financially viable for their host nations than World Cups involving the building of lots of new shiny stadiums.

“For example, the 1966 World Cup in England and the 1994 tournament in the USA are remembered as being successful – but in both of those cases the emphasis was on using existing stadiums.

“There are other contributory factors of course, but stadium-related costs are very important to the bottom line for hosts.”

FIFA will choose 16 host cities for the 2026 tournament from a list of 23, which includes the northernmost city of Edmonton in Canada and Mexico City, which lies 2,478 miles south.

The enormous travel distances involved for competing teams and fans is a major problem organisers will have to overcome if the 2026 tournament is to be successful, Dr Gillett said.

“Perhaps 2026 will catalyse or be used as a reason to bring forward some transport investment,” he added. “But this World Cup presents many logistical challenges for fans hoping to travel around.

“President Trump’s pledge to build a wall on the border with co-host Mexico is one such example, if it goes ahead.

“Also, overseas soccer fans from some nations may find it difficult, if not impossible, to enter the USA if recent US border control policies continue.”

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