From 2026 or even before, the World Cup could undergo a change in its organization that goes beyond the 48 teams
Seven years ago, Qatar was given the opportunity to organize the 2022 FIFA World Cup, a cup that has been full of controversy due to various factors. Also, in recent years it has been talking about a possible union between the United States, Mexico, and Canada for the organization of the 2026 edition.
Leer en español: Copa del Mundo 2026 y 2030: ¿Dos mundiales de fútbol para América?
The aforementioned North American association has taken more force in recent days when it was discovered that the possible decision of the FIFA to implement a World Cup of 48 teams, instead of 32, could affect the economy of a country at the time of wanting to organize the tournament alone. So, in the future, it could be considered that all soccer World Cups are played in shared venues, which could include the 2022 edition, as this would be evaluated immediately after the 2018 FIFA World Cup.
Two World Cups in a row in America?
According to the Associated Press (AP), the FIFA World Cup Russia 2018 will have a final value of almost 11 billion dollars, after the Government of that country decided to add 325 million dollars to the budget for the organization of the tournament. "The total spending rises to 638.8 million rubles ($10,8 billion), with all the increase coming from federal budget funds, which now make up almost 55 percent of total spending," AP said.
It is for this reason that there has been glimpsed the decision that the next hosts will be part of a shared headquarters because this way they will be able to cover the expenses that require this type of sports competitions in a much easier way, as well as collecting profits together. Of course, such alliances should be made between politically stable countries and those that share a close relationship with each other.
"There are material benefits when sharing accommodation for major events, not to mention that it is politically convenient," said Simon Chadwick, professor of Sports Enterprise at Salford University, in an interview with BBC. In that order of ideas, it is not unreasonable to think that the next two world championships would take place in America, with four Latin countries as protagonists.
On the one hand, by 2026 there is a very strong bet on the part of the United States, Canada, and Mexico; although, Morocco has also joined the fight. However, should the idea of a shared headquarters for the future prosper, the three countries of the north of America would have practically bought their place as organizers of that World Cup.
Also, for 2030, Argentina, Uruguay, and Paraguay are the three South American countries that hope to participate as hosts of the World Cup for that year. This was announced by the leaders of these nations in 2017 when they formally presented their candidacy in a private meeting they had with the FIFA president, Gianni Infantino.
However, not only the formation of a solid group between these three countries brothers can be the key to obtain the 2030 World Cup but also the fact that the centenary of this competition (1930-2030) could be celebrated in Uruguayan lands; a country that hosted the first edition of the World Cup. The latter is a compelling reason, as explained by the president of Paraguay, Horacio Cartes.
"There are also other countries that are going to want the headquarters. But I think that the arguments of Uruguay's 100 years of being the first cup make it very attractive to the region," said Horacio Cartes, at a press conference after the meeting with the president of Argentina, Mauricio Macri, and the president of Uruguay, Tabaré Vázquez.
Qatar would seek help
There are very few nations that have the economic capacity to organize this sport. Among them are Russia and Qatar, so it is likely that the last World Cups with only one country as the sole organizer will be these two nations in 2018 and 2022 respectively. However, Qatar is in doubt.
In the month of April of this year, CONMEBOL sent a letter to FIFA signed by all the associations that are part of the South American confederation, in order to accelerate the increase of teams in the competition.
"As we do believe in big and because we want to do justice (...) we ask that the 2022 World Cup is played with 48 teams", says the letter delivered by the president of CONMEBOL, Alejandro Domínguez, during the opening of 68th Ordinary Congress of that association, according to information presented by El Universal of México.
For Infantino, this idea is not bad at all: "We need to study the practicality of this proposal," he said. However, for this offer to be viable, Qatar would have to seek help among some Arab nations that can help it in the organization of the World Cup. This is because the logistics for 32 teams is not the same as for 48, because it would be 16 more matches and the same number of teams to pay attention to.
However, in the last days, the president of the FIFA showed his refusal to this idea clarifying that "we have a contract with the Qatari. They won a World Cup of 32 teams. We are right there. The contracts are to be respected."
Furthermore, the isolation of Qatar by Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain and Egypt imposed on June 4, would also make the possibility of a shared headquarters in the Persian Gulf almost unachievable. Now, we have to wait for the FIFA's decision, which will meet on June 13 at its 68th Congress, to decide whether this idea will prosper or be forgotten.
Latin American Post | Christopher Ramírez Hernández
Translated from " Copa del Mundo 2026 y 2030: ¿Dos mundiales de fútbol para América?"