It was made official this morning, FIFA selected Canada, Mexico, and the United States to host the 2026 World Cup. This marks the first time the international federation chooses a trio of countries to lead the competition – before this, the only nations that shared the organization were Japan and Korea in 2002, but it clearly didn’t start a trend.
After 2022, which will be held in Qatar, and 2026, many federations – including South America’s – are keeping an eye on the 2030 championship, which will mark the 100th anniversary of the tournament.
The first World Cup was hosted in Uruguay in 1930, with 13 participants and an all-South American finale disputed between Argentina and the host country (Uruguay won 4-2).
Abel Fialko, a Uruguayan supporter living in Israel, was the first to push a project for the 2030 South American bid. Witnessing the 1996 Olympic Games go to Atlanta rather than Athens, despite being the centennial of the global sporting event first held in 1896 in Greece, way back in 1997 (!) he decided to launch a website to organize the 2030 World Cup in Uruguay. The website is still online, and the initiative paved the way to create some buzz around the candidacy.
However, as the competition grows bigger and bigger with each edition (the 2026 tournament will welcome 48 countries, compared to the 32 participating this year), Uruguay definitely can’t host the event all by itself. Conversations then started with Argentina, the finalist of the first World Cup (and champion in ’78 and ’86), to co-host it while dividing the costs, the stadiums, and the general organization. On July 29, 2017, the two countries officially announced their interest in hosting the event; they added Paraguay to the bid on October 4, 2017.
The competition should take place mostly in Argentina, in six stadiums across the country; Paraguay and Uruguay would provide two each.
Other countries are interested in hosting the competition. Morocco might try again, after losing the 2026 bid, and China will probably join the race, due to the explosion of football’s popularity and the diverse policies implemented by the government on the topic.
However, the biggest opponent of the South American bid will be England, which is one of the few countries that could welcome 48 participants in a perfectly organized way, as proven during the 2012 Olympic Games. The first option would be to host the event within its beautiful Premier League Stadiums; however, if the country is judged too small for such a competition, Plan B dabbles with the idea of a joint British organization, with Wales, Scotland, and Ireland being considered.
Since the 1930 World Cup, Uruguay only hosted an Under 17 World Cup, in 2018, while Argentina hosted the tournament in 1978, and the FIFA World Youth Championship in 2001. The last time the competition was held on the continent was in 2014, in Brazil, and it could constitute a problem for the South American bid. FIFA likes to alternate the continents, meaning that Asia, Western Europe, or Africa should come before Latin America. Moreover, the “Americas” will already have hosted the World Cup four years prior.
Another issue could be the lack of stability in the region. The recent peso crisis showed the problems South American countries can face unexpectedly, and Brazil 2014 caused controversies due to its exorbitant costs and going over budget. Hosting between three countries will be better to divide the costs, but the South American countries will need to update many stadiums to host the competition (as opposed to, say, England). For example, FIFA requires that every stadium has at least 40,000 seats, 60,000 for the semi-finals, and 80,000 for the final. Right now, despite having the Estadio Centenario (Uruguay), the Monumental, and the Estadio Ciudad de la Plata (Argentina), which can all host more than 60,000 people, the three South American countries are far from having what it needs to host an entire tournament.
The good news could come from the recent nomination of the North American trio for 2026, pushed by the Concacaf (the North American Football Federation). Conmebol, the South American Federation, voted in favor of their neighbors’ bid, along with Asia, when Europe and Africa were mainly voting in favor of Morocco’s bid. This could push the three continents to ally themselves in favor of Argentina, Uruguay, and Paraguay against the English candidacy.
Argentina – Paraguay – Uruguay want to host 2030 World Cup.
Last night, all three nations got assurance from senior US officials that United bid will help them get that.
Uruguay desperate to host World Cup final again after it hosted it in 1930. pic.twitter.com/LfiIChc9KV
— Gary = (@garyalsmith) 13 juin 2018
In any case, the 2026 World Cup will be a turning point in the competition’s history along with the 2030 edition. The era when one single country, like Chile, Switzerland, or Qatar could host the event is clearly over. As a reference, the European Cup was hosted in 2000 by Belgium and the Netherlands, in 2008 by Austria and Switzerland, and in 2012 by the Ukraine-Poland duo. In 2020, the competition will take place in 12 cities all around Europe, to commemorate its 60th anniversary. Clearly, duos and trios seem to be new style.
The 2030 World Cup will be in Wakanda.
— Thelonious (@TheloniousFilth) 13 juin 2018