The North American trio of 2026 World Cup hosts are being urged to move south to compete in the upcoming Copa America in a bid to improve on their disappointing results in Qatar.
The United States, Mexico and Canada will co-host the next World Cup in less than four years and, as co-hosts, automatically qualify for the expanded 48-team tournament, reducing their schedules and competition. Will come , Match without qualifying round.
The United States was the only CONCACAF team to qualify for the group stage, losing their Round of 16 match against the Netherlands 3–1.
Canada, playing in their first World Cup since 1986, lost all three games in Qatar, while Mexico ended a run of seven consecutive World Cups in which they reached the knockout stage, drawing a large turnout in the country. The other CONCACAF representative in Central America, Costa Rica in Qatar, finished bottom of their group.
While the need for improvement is clear, matches against top international opponents have become more difficult to find since the vast reduction in opportunities for European friendlies with the creation of the UEFA Nations League.
CONCACAF will host the final of its Nations League competition next June, followed by the biennial 16-team Gold Cup, but in those competitions, the toughest opponents the 2026 hosts will likely face will be each other.
Former US international striker Taylor Twelman, now an ESPN television analyst, told AFP the trio needed to spread their wings and take on the best teams in South America.
“For CONCACAF to compete at the highest level in the World Cup, they have to find better competition. The UEFA Nations League eliminated the friendly circuit of the United States, Canada and Mexico. I would love to see the Copa América compete and I Having done it myself, it’s a much tougher place to play than the Gold Cup.”
– ‘I can’t just play friendly matches’ –
Mexican goalkeeper Guillermo Ochoa, who has played in the last five World Cups, made a similar call and also suggested that his country would also like to participate in the Asian Cup. “We can’t just play friendlies in the United States,” he said.
Such measures would require the agreement of CONCACAF, which governs North, Central America and the Caribbean, and would also have to be approved by FIFA. CONCACAF declined to comment.
The next Copa America is set for 2024, although a venue has yet to be decided after Ecuador declined its turn as host.
Unlike the European Championships, which are strictly for UEFA member countries, the Copa América has in the past included nine different “guest” countries outside CONMEBOL.
Mexico has participated nine times and the United States three times, but Canada has not yet participated.
A more ambitious plan may be to repeat the special centenary edition of the tournament, held in the United States in 2016, which featured six CONCACAF teams along with ten CONMEBOL nations.
Such a scenario would provide the most lucrative commercial revenue opportunity and build momentum with fans and viewers ahead of the World Cup.
It could be an alternative to the accepted window of June and July 2025, one year after the World Cup, where in the past FIFA hosted the now-abracted Confederations Cup as a “test event” in the host country. world Cup. bowl. ,
Adding to the uncertainty, but also potential opportunity, FIFA has yet to agree a new international match schedule format to replace the current system due to expire in 2024.
Although top football officials from North and South America are currently in Doha for the World Cup, it is understood that there have been no formal discussions about participation in the Copa America or any other initiatives.
CONCACAF president, Canadian Victor Montagliani, who is also FIFA vice-president, enjoys a close relationship with FIFA president Gianni Infantino, making an inter-federation deal unlikely to face opposition from the body.
If nothing is decided yet, no alternatives have been ruled out, and the calendar currently shows blank pages for 2024 and 2025, discussions should intensify in the coming weeks.