World Cup Shifting To Have Multiple Host Nations - Coronado Eagle & Journal | Coronado News | Coronado Island News: Opinion

World Cup Shifting To Have Multiple Host Nations

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Posted: Thursday, September 12, 2019 3:12 pm

The 2026 World Cup will be hosted by the United States, Mexico and Canada. 2026 will mark the first year in which FIFA expands play to 48 teams, with the knockout round expected to have 32 teams compared to the previous 16. While many tend to look towards FIFA and its history of corruption, one story that has been uncovered is the transition towards multiple host nations for future World Cups.

The first ever FIFA World Cup was held for the first time in 1930 by Uruguay and only consisted of 13 teams. Ever since soccer’s biggest tournament has been held once every four years, with the exception of 1942 and 1946, due to World War II. Through 2022, all World Cups but one (South Korea/Japan 1998) will have been hosted by only one nation. However, it appears as if there may be a shift to come in future years where groups of three, four, or even five countries will start to host the sporting event beloved by many.

As mentioned, the 2026 World Cup will be held by three nations, for the first time ever. The U.S. is planned to host 60 of 80 matches across 17 venues, with the final expected to be held at MetLife Stadium, the home of the New York Giants and Jets, in New Jersey. Mexico and Canada will each host 10 matches across three venues. While all three countries have lots of already completed stadiums, the U.S. is the most well equipped to host the large crowds drawn by the most watched sporting event in the world.

It appears as if the trend of multiple hosts will continue in 2030, with three confirmed plans to bid. The first bid was announced as a joint bid between Argentina and Uruguay, and later expanded to include Paraguay and Chile. Morocco lost the vote for the 2026 World Cup 134-65, failing to become the second ever African host nation (The first was South Africa in 2010). Despite missing out on the chance, Morocco has confirmed plans to try again for 2030, possibly solo, but more likely with two other countries.

If Morocco was to band with other countries, the likeliest option would include fellow African countries Algeria and Tunisia. Morocco has very strong historical and religious ties with these nations, and if the three nations can secure the bid it would be a huge victory for the Pan-Arab world. The second potential team-up for Morocco would be with European nations Spain and Portugal. Spain and Portugal have considerably more stadiums to host the event than Algeria and Tunisia so less preparation would be required. Morocco also has strong historical ties to the Iberian nations, as the Spanish reconquista was done to expel Muslims out of the peninsula and back to Morocco, in the early centuries of the second millenium. Moroccan lands have also been under Spanish and Portuguese control, dating back as early as the 15th century and up until as recently as the 20th century.

The last planned bid that has been confirmed is another four-team bid, by Romania, Bulgaria, Greece, and Serbia. All four European nations are located in an area known as the Balkans, which has long been the home to religious conflict and tensions. A united Balkan bid would be a huge step forward for diplomatic relations in an area with high tensions and relative political and economic instability in the past half-century.

In addition, there have been many other nations expressing interest in bidding. China has brought up the possibility of being the first Asian member of FIFA to host the World Cup since South Korea and Japan. The country of nearly 1.4 billion people certainly has the facilities to host the event, although obvious questions emerge about air quality and player safety. England, another member with enough stadiums to handle the World Cup, has mentioned trying for the 2030 bid. Scotland, Wales, and Northern Ireland would probably join England in a British bid (All four British countries are considered as separate entities by FIFA), and there have been talks to incorporate Ireland in a British Isles bid. It is worth noting that the president of the Union of European Football Associations, or UEFA, Aleksander Ceferin, only wants one UEFA bid for 2030. He considers the British bid as the wisest idea. His statements deliver a big blow to the Balkan bid, but nothing has been formalized yet for the British bid.

So why is it World Cup bids are consisting of multiple nations now? The first and most obvious reason is the expansion of the World Cup to 48 teams. 80 matches will be played across a minimum of 15 venues and most FIFA members lack the resources to handle such requirements on their own. After Qatar secured the 2022 World Cup, (allegedly due to bribery and corruption), the planned 48-team expansion was postponed until 2026 since the amount of stadiums needed would not be ready in time. However, if one or more Middle Eastern nations would have joined Qatar, the 2022 World Cup could have likely stuck with the initial plans for 48 teams.

With the expansion of the tournament in 2026, FIFA will require host nations to have stadiums with a minimum capacity of 40,000 for group stage and early knockout round games, stadiums that can hold 50,000 for the quarterfinals, 60,000 for the semifinals, and 80,000 for the final and opening game. The vast majority of countries in FIFA do not have venues with a capacity of 80,000, and would therefore be required to build new stadiums. After the stadium-building disaster in Qatar where over 1,500 workers have died, countries are less reluctant to rush stadium building in one country and more willing to spread the workload out between themselves.

There is also the issue of the massive costs of hosting a World Cup. While the tournament certainly does bring in tourism and helps out businesses, countries overall lose money by hosting the World Cup, contrary to popular belief. In 2014, Brazil spent $15 billion in taxpayer money on the World Cup and FIFA made $4 billion on the event. FIFA covered Brazil’s costs with $2 billion, with Brazil losing $13 billion overall. In 2018, Russia spent $11.6-14 billion on the World Cup. FIFA made $6.1 billion off the event and it is currently unknown how much money they gave to Russia to help foot the bill. Because Qatar is vastly underprepared before the World Cup and has had to build all facilities after they secured the bid in 2010, experts estimate that the costs could reach as high as $220 billion!

Logically, dividing the massive costs associated with the World Cup would be more beneficial to nations.

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