Mexico pushes ahead with World Cup 2026 plans

Mexico, the first country to host the World Cup twice, wants to be the first country to host it three times. Whether that is on its own, or as part of a co-hosted tournament, that doesn't matter to the Mexican federation (FMF).

Decio de Maria, the FMF president, says his organization's executive committee supports co-hosting.

"I don't know [whether we would pursue a joint bid] but the rules are already open to it," he told ESPN. "What was agreed upon makes the path perfectly clear. Mexico will be in the hunt to host the 2026 World Cup."

FIFA has not decided how many teams will play in the 2026 World Cup, but it is likely to be more than the 32 teams that have gone to the finals since 1998. It also has not stated how many stadiums will be needed, but an expanded tournament will certainly put pressure on potential hosts to partner.

FIFA president Gianni Infantino is pushing the idea of an expanded tournament -- 40 or 48 teams -- and co-hosting. In North America, that could mean Mexico might co-host with the USA or Canada or both.

Mexico has a lot going for it if it wants to bid alone or with another North American partner.

Mexico is one of the most important television markets in the world. Politics play a part -- Emilio Azcarraga, who oversaw the Televisa TV empire, was close to then-FIFA president Joao Havelange as the Brazilian built FIFA into a commercial giant in the 1970s and 1980s and into the 1990s -- but the Mexican television market is a big reason why Mexican teams compete in South America's Copa America and Copa Libertadores.

Mexico is one of the strongest soccer markets in the world. Liga MX averages more than 27,000 fans a game, ranking fourth in the world behind only Germany's Bundesliga, England's Premier League and Spain's La Liga.

With a capacity of more than 100,000, Azteca Stadium in Mexico City is one of the most famous stadiums in the world, having hosted the 1970 and 1986 World Cup finals. It celebrated its 50th anniversary in 2016 as renovations were being done to add luxury seating.

Two new stadiums, both costing $200 million, have been built in Mexico in recent years. Guadalajara's Chivas Stadium opened in 2010 and Monterrey's Estadio BBVA Bancomer opened in 2015. Work on Puebla's Cuauhtemoc Stadium, a venue for the 1970 and 1986 World Cups, was badly needed and completed in 2015. Little by little, Tijuana's Estadio Caliente has been expanded, and it should hold more than 30,000 fans in the future.

Mexico has other stadiums with capacities of 25,000 or more, but they would require extensive work to meet hosting requirements and are dwarfed by the dozens of stadiums for pro and college football that could be used for a U.S.-hosted World Cup.

As a co-host, Mexico would be a solid World Cup candidate. Alone, not so much. Which is why de Maria and the FMF remain at the mercy of what U.S. Soccer wants to do.
1 comment about "Mexico pushes ahead with World Cup 2026 plans".
  1. ROBERT BOND, November 1, 2016 at 9:37 a.m.

    hope they clean up the jails.....

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