The United States, Canada and Mexico who are jointly bidding to host the 2026 FIFA World Cup on Tuesday met with the Zimbabwe government officials and Zimbabwe Football Association to canvas for support during the forthcoming FIFA congress in Russia where members will vote to decide the hosts of the 2026 World Cup.
In an unprecedented show of continental unity, the joint bid if successful, it would be the first finals held in North America since the US hosted the 1994 tournament.
The representative of the joint bid who arrived in the country on Monday were scheduled to meet Foreign Affairs and International Trade Minister Retired Lieutenant General Sibusiso Moyo and Minister of Youth, Sport, Arts and Recreation Kazembe Kazembe.
ZIFA president Phillip Chiyangwa said the joint bid representatives were in the country to consult the government and ZIFA and canvass for support for their joint 2026 World Cup bid.
“They met foreign affairs and government of Zimbabwe officials who are happy to support the bid and share their views on the forthcoming FIFA congress and World Cup 2026 election by FIFA congress,” said Chiyangwa.
All three countries are members of the CONCACAF, US soccer the Canadian Soccer Association and the Federación Mexicana de Fútbol.
Speaking during a hastily arranged media conference in the capital the three countries’ representatives said they are confident that they will submit an exemplary bid worthy of bringing the FIFA World Cup back to North America.
All the three countries, United States, Mexico and Canada have individually demonstrated their exceptional abilities to host world-class events.
“When our nations come together as one, as we will for 2026, there is no question the United States, Mexico and Canada will deliver an experience that will celebrate the game and serve players, supporters and partners alike,” said Jim Brown, the MD for the joint bid.
“For the Federación Mexicana de Fútbol, and the entire Mexican soccer family, it is a source of pride to be candidates, along with the United States and Canada, to host the FIFA World Cup in 2026,” said Decio de Maria, Mexican football association representative.
“As such we are filled with pride and committed to make it the best ever. Mexico has been recognized for being a magnificent host of past FIFA events, such as the 1970 and 1986 World Cups, the 1999 Confederations Cup, the 2011 Under-17 World Cup, and most recently the 2016 FIFA congress. If we are selected to host, it will be an honour to welcome everyone with open arms,” added de Maria.
No rival bid has emerged for the 2026 tournament, which is due to be awarded by FIFA in 2020.
FIFA rules currently rule out bidders from Europe and Asia because Russia is staging the World Cup in 2018 and Qatar has the showpiece in 2022.
Organizers say 10 games would be played in Canada and the final will be in the US.
The 2018 men’s World Cup is set for Russia with the 2022 tournament headed to Qatar.
The 2026 tournament will be the first of the expanded format.
The FIFA council agreed in January to expand the current the 32-country tournament to 48 teams split into 16 groups of three.
The top two teams from each group will then advance to a 32-team knockout stage.
Canada is coming off hosting the 2015 Women’s World Cup, deemed a success on and off the field. It has also hosted the 2014 Under 20 Women’s World Cup, the 2007 Under 20 Men’s World Cup, and the 1997 Under 16 Men’s World Cup (now a Under 17 event).
If approved, it would be the First World Cup hosted by three nations and the first jointly hosted World Cup since Korea/Japan 2002.
It would also be the first finals held in North America since the US hosted the 1994 tournament.
Mexico would host matches for the first time since 1986 while it also hosted the 1970 world cup.