What Marketers Think of the U.S.-Canada-Mexico Joint 2026 World Cup Bid

What: Portada asked sports marketing experts from Brown Forman, Scouts Sports and Entertainment, Global W Mexico and AC&M Group how a 2026 Soccer World Cup played in Canada, the U.S., and Mexico may impact soccer marketing.
Why it matters: On April 10th U.S. Soccer President Sunil Gulati and the leaders of  the Mexican and Canadian soccer federations announced a public bid to co-host to 2026 World Cup.

Last week  U.S. Soccer President Sunil Gulati, Mexican federation president Decio de María, and Canadian federation president Victor Montagliani, officially presented a public bid to become co-hosts of the 2026 World Cup.

According to their bid, the U.S. will be the “senior partner” of the 2026 World Cup, hosting 60 games out of 80. Canada and Mexico will each host 10 games. If the joint bid is successful this will be the first time the World Cup will be played in three different countries. Additionally,  the 2026 world championship wll have 48 participating teams, instead of the 32 that will play in Russia 2018.

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Portada asked four leading sports marketers what a 2026 World Cup in the U.S., Canada, and Mexico means for sports marketing in these countries.

Michael Neuman_Scout Sports and EntertainmentMichael Neuman, EVP and Managing Partner at Scout Sports and Entertainment

“The potential decision to allow three countries to jointly host the 2026 World Cup is nirvana for soccer fans and sponsors alike.  FIFA World Cup partners with global IP rights will now dig deeper into their pockets to activate on-site for fans in the three countries, a first in World Cup history. I expect that the anticipation of hosting a World Cup would spur significant incremental activation from brands that sponsor national teams but don’t have World Cup rights.”

Ed Carias, Sr. Brand Manager el Jimador Tequila - North American Region, Brown-Forman

Ed Carias, Sr. Brand Manager at el Jimador Tequila, North American Region, Brown-Forman

“If you are a global brand and you already have soccer as one of your global platforms then a three country Wold Cup may be easier to activate because you can try and emulate what the country will look like during the World Cup. For certain sponsors, there may be some challenges because there might be a platform that you only use in Mexico but not in the other countries and you have to look at the nuances. In Mexico, for example, we are very limited in terms of alcohol brand sponsorships in any kind of sports. There are going to be matches that will be played in Mexico, where we don’t have the ability, necessarily, to activate, given the local rules. There is an added complexity because of the fact that the World Cup may be played in three countries. We need to figure this out in the next few years.”

pacoFrancisco de Dios Gómez, VP of Sports Marketing at Global W Mexico

“A World Cup is always good news, especially when it gets played in your country or region. A joint bid between three countries is a great accomplishment for the sports marketing industry. It reflects a region that is globalizing, and that understands each of the countries’ economies. Brands that are sponsoring a national soccer team in these countries, will be even luckier and have a higher marketing potential. A World Cup gives you a huge exposure, and having it take place in three countries makes it even bigger. Local, regional and global brands will be able to implement strategies, as they have never done before.”

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Vicente NavarroVicente Navarro, Vice-President of Product Development at marketing agency AC&M Group

“It is definitely a very exciting announcement. However, the real work in terms of planning and building opportunities for clients does not start until the World Cup is awarded in May 2020. There is a good chance that it will come to North America, but until it becomes official, clients usually do not spend a lot of resources on it. The announcement is likely to increase interest in brands in sponsoring the three national soccer federations and will probably help them to retain current sponsors and add new brands that will want to jump on the opportunity.”