FIFA eyes big crowds, bigger profits at 2026 World Cup


Los Angeles (AFP) – The 2026 World Cup hosted by the United States, Canada and Mexico promises to take the tournament to a new level, delivering more teams, bigger crowds and bumper profits.

FIFA had already decided to expand the 2026 tournament to 48 teams and by backing the joint bid it has also committed to holding the first tournament hosted by three countries.

Here is an overview of the bid:

– Stadium facilities –

Arguably the greatest strength of the North American bid is the vast array of already-built stadiums available to organisers, ranging from iconic World Cup venues such as Mexico City’s Azteca Stadium to state-of-the-art large-capacity arenas.

A total of 23 venues — three in Mexico, three in Canada, 17 in the United States — have made the final shortlist that will be considered for the tournament.

The average stadium capacity for the tournament is 55,000, with the largest the AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas, best known as the home of the Dallas Cowboys NFL team. The stadium, which has a retractable roof, has a capacity of 92,467. 

The smallest is the 45,000-capacity BMO Field in Toronto, the football-specific home of MLS Cup champions Toronto FC.

US venues include the Pasadena Rose Bowl in Los Angeles, venue for the 1994 World Cup final. 

The $4 billion stadium being built for the Los Angeles Rams, due to open in 2020, is also likely to feature.

– Financial windfall? –

Bid officials have given bullish financial projections, forecasting a record-breaking multi-billion-dollar profit for the expanded tournament.

Bid chairman Carlos Cordeiro has said the 2026 World Cup would hand world governing body FIFA a record $11 billion profit from total revenues of $14 billion.

That figure would shatter the $2.6 billion profit from the 2014 World Cup in Brazil. 

Bid leaders say 5.8 million tickets would be sold, generating record gate money of $2.5 billion. 

If the numbers hold up, 2026 would set a new record as the best-attended World Cup in history, with an average crowd of 72,500 per game, comfortably eclipsing the existing record of 68,991 set at the 1994 World Cup in the United States.

Commercial hospitality is expected to generate $1-1.5 billion, while media revenues could exceed $5 billion for the first time.

– History of success –

Canada, Mexico and the United States each have a proven track record of staging successful FIFA football tournaments, with Mexico hosting the World Cup in 1970 and 1986 and the United States hosting the 1994 finals. 

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