The United States, Mexico and Canada made a terribly kept secret official on Monday -- they are joining together in a bid to host the 2026 World Cup.
FIFA will not announce the host of the tournament until May of 2020, and the three countries will spend the next two years working on the bid, so there is plenty to be determined, but the press conference did answer some questions about it.
Here's what we learned:
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The USA will host 60 matches, with Mexico and Canada hosting 10
The agreement that the three countries have signed specifically lays out how many matches will be played in each country. It will be a U.S.-heavy World Cup, with the Americans hosting 75 percent of the matches. Mexico and Canada will host 10 matches each.
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All matches from the quarterfinals on will be hosted by the USA
FIFA will have to approve the final scheduling, if the bid is successful, however the three countries have agreed that the U.S. will host all matches from the quarterfinals on. That includes the final.
The three countries have been discussing this for more than three years
The idea for a U.S., Mexico and Canada joint bid is not new. While the talk about one has picked up over the last year, with officials from all three countries and CONCACAF hinting at its possibility, Gulati said that the three countries have been discussing it for more than three years. This is something that has been in the works for far longer than the public has known.
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U.S. Soccer says they have support from the White House
There has been some skepticism about whether the U.S. could be in a position to host a World Cup, alone or as part of a joint bid, because of the election of Donald Trump. It was feared that his calls for a wall between the U.S. and Mexico border would cause issues, while UEFA president Aleksander Ceferin specifically said that the White House's proposed travel ban would raise some concerns and potentially block the country from hosting.
Despite all that, Gulati said that they have been working with the White House and have their backing. In particular, President Trump specifically has encouraged their bid and "he is especially pleased that Mexico is part of the bid."
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They intend to exclusively use existing stadiums
One of the strengths of the bid will be that all three countries have many excellent existing stadiums. Whereas many World Cup and Olympic bids build tons of new facilities, driving up costs, this bid will not have to and Gulati said that they believe it will make it especially appealing.
"The thought of building sports facilities without long-term use is not particularly inviting for anyone," said Gulati.
They will group matches regionally to minimize travel
One of the concerns with the bid, which spans the entire continent, is the huge travel required for the teams, as well as the fans. One way that the bid intends to combat that is by grouping things regionally so teams won't have to go across multiple time zones early in the tournament.
Gulati, as an example, said Vancouver, Seattle, San Francisco, Los Angeles and Guadalajara could be one regional grouping that teams would span.
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