World Cup 2026: A primer on the expanded tournament coming to North America

The 2026 World Cup has been awarded to Canada, the U.S. and Mexico. FIFA, the world governing body of soccer, now takes over the tournament, working with the three countries.

A look at some questions surrounding the men’s soccer showcase:

Is Canada guaranteed three host cities?

Edmonton (Commonwealth Stadium), Montreal (Olympic Stadium) and Toronto (BMO Field) were among the 23 candidate host cities in the North American bid book with FIFA expected to select up to 16 cities. Canadian officials say they will push to keep all three of their host cities. The bid group has been working under the premise of three cities in each of Canada and Mexico and 10 in the U.S.

Bid officials are keen on the idea of having three games back-to-back-to-back on the opening day of the tournament, using BMO Field, Mexico City’s Azteca Stadium and the Rose Bowl in Pasadena, Calif.

That could mean more than 220,000 spectators on Day 1, given the bid group’s stadium capacity estimates include expanding BMO Field to 45,500.

Will Canada get automatic entry as co-host?

There has been no formal announcement yet that the three co-host countries will skip qualifying, as has been the tournament custom. But all signs point to yes, especially with the field expanded to 48 teams from 32.

Peter Montopoli, general secretary of the Canadian Soccer Association and Canada’s bid director, and U.S. Soccer Federation president Carlos Cordeiro said the issue of automatic qualification is a FIFA decision which will come later.

But FIFA president Gianni Infantino said CONCACAF, the governing body of soccer for North and Centreal America and the Caribbean, will have seven slots in 2026, and it will be up to CONCACAF to decide how to deploy them.

CONCACAF got 3 1/2 entries for the 2018 World Cup, which has 32 entries. The top three teams in the final round of qualifying — Mexico, Costa Rica and Panama — booked their ticket to Russia while No. 4 Honduras lost an inter-confederation playoff with Australia 3-1 on aggregate.

With CONCACAF president Victor Montagliani a Canadian who was a key player in the successful bid and FIFA looking to sell as many tickets as possible, look for the host countries to be front and centre.

How many games will Canada get?

The current blueprint calls for Canada and Mexico to get 10 each with the U.S. hosting 60, including all games from the quarterfinals on. Cordeiro defended that split, calling it ”the most optimal mix of cities and matches.” But FIFA could make changes to that breakdown.

When will the tournament schedule be out?

The full field likely won’t be known until the last week of November 2025 with the final draw expected to follow in the first week of December 2025. A match schedule, with venues but not teams, likely will be out earlier — perhaps late 2024 or 2025.

What surface will the tournament be played on?

Montopoli said it will be 100 per cent natural grass, meaning temporary surfaces will have to be installed in stadiums with artificial turf. Eleven of the 23 stadiums under consideration — including Commonwealth Stadium and Olympic Stadium — have artificial surfaces. A number of training sites would also have to go to a grass surface.

The 2015 Women’s World Cup was played on artificial turf, prompting a human rights complaint from a group of elite female players. FIFA refused to budge and the complaint was eventually dropped, but not before the lawyer for the women’s players slammed FIFA and the Canadian Soccer Association.

How will the tournament work?

FIFA says the 48 teams will be split into 16 groups of three. The top two teams from each group will then advance to a 32-team knockout stage. The competition will feature 80 games. FIFA says the new format will last 32 days, the same as the current 32-team tournament. There will be no reduction in rest days. And there will be a maximum of seven games for the teams reaching the final, the same as the current format.

Will the three co-hosts stage a Confederations Cup in advance of the World Cup?

FIFA is looking at changes to the Confederations Cup, a tournament that has traditionally served as a precursor to the World Cup. So that’s up in the air.

Just Posted

WATCH: Red Deer residents protest for more equal family court treatment

Despite unfavourable weather, Matias Battauz was “stoked” to have three other people… Continue reading

First-come first-serve for Red Deer’s 35 cannabis retail licences

Starting July 11, interested businesses can get their application started

Central Alberta school divisions to support rural students through agreement

Wolf Creek to bring Enhanced Learning Model courses to Clearview schools

WATCH: Red Deer Catholic students re-envision a local wetland for school project

Father Henri Voisin Grade 3 teacher introduces ‘real-life’-based education

Manslaughter charge stayed against Maskwacis man

Man was accused of manslaughter in connection with the death of his mother in 2015

WATCH: Red Deer Catholic students re-envision a local wetland for school project

Father Henri Voisin Grade 3 teacher introduces ‘real-life’-based education

US moves 100 coffins to inter-Korean border for war remains

SEOUL, Korea, Republic Of — The U.S. military said it moved 100… Continue reading

First lady’s ‘don’t care’ jacket is a gift to memers online

NEW YORK — I really don’t care, do u? Perhaps one day… Continue reading

From boat makers to farmers, US-led tariff war inflicts pain

WASHINGTON — A Florida boat builder absorbs $4 million in lost business… Continue reading

Vatican convicts ex-diplomat of child porn distribution

VATICAN CITY — The Vatican tribunal on Saturday convicted a former Holy… Continue reading

Charges dropped against Alberta property owner in rural shooting

OKOTOKS, Alta. — All charges have been dropped against a man accused… Continue reading

China blocks John Oliver on social media after scathing show

BEIJING — A popular Chinese social media site is censoring discussion of… Continue reading

Most Red Deer Advocate readers would call police when witnessing a crime

An overwhelming number of Advocate readers would call the police if they… Continue reading

So much TV, so little summer: Amy Adams, Kevin Hart, Dr. Pol

LOS ANGELES — The fall television season is months away but that’s… Continue reading

Most Read


Five-day delivery plus unlimited digital access for $185 for 260 issues (must live in delivery area to qualify) Unlimited Digital Access 99 cents for the first four weeks and then only $15 per month Five-day delivery plus unlimited digital access for $15 a month