The big soccer story today comes from the U.S., Mexico and Canada as they announced they’ll be joining forces to bid for the 2026 World Cup.
Now, many will remember that the U.S. was (unjustly) beaten out by Qatar for the 2022 World Cup, which was the catalyst for the arrests at FIFA amid rampant corruption. And many of those same people have also called for Qatar to be stripped of its hosting duties because of ongoing controversy. But let’s be honest, that’s unlikely.
But that’s in the past and now we are here.
The 2026 World Cup will be played in the United States. Take that to the bank.
Barring unforeseen events, the North American bid is a heavy favorite for 2026. So if and when that happens, what can we expect from North America fans?
First, let’s look at history. The U.S. still holds the record for World Cup attendance from its 1994 tournament – 3.58 million. That’s an average of 68,991 per match. And that record number is with only 52 games in a 24-team tournament (the World Cup expanded to 32 teams the in 1998). The next closest to that number was in Brazil 2014 with an average of 52,918 per game.
In 2026, there will be 48 teams and 80 games. The U.S. will host 60 of those games, with Mexico and Canada each getting 10.
If we take a look at the venues that were part of the failed U.S. 2022 World Cup bid, we have a good baseline to predict which stadiums will be part of the 2026 bid.
Some of the locations may change, but we can expect the venue sizes to remain consistent so the U.S. can maximize ticket sales. That means that with 60 games, and an average of 76,485 fans per game, the 2026 World Cup games in the U.S. will draw over 4.5 million supporters.
Add that to the numbers Mexico and Canada draw with the additional 20 games, and the total will be astounding.
Now you can see why FIFA, big name sponsors and global soccer leaders are salivating at the thought of a North America World Cup in 2026.