This will be the first tournament in the new 48-team format

By Lucinda Shen and Fortune Editors
April 10, 2017

Even as one trade alliance between the U.S., Canada, and Mexico sits on rocky territory, another is being formed around soccer (a.k.a. football).

The soccer federation of those three nations, currently discussing a possible renegotiation of the decades-old NAFTA trade deal, are preparing to submit a joint bid for the 2026 FIFA World Cup, according to a Wall Street Journal interview with Victor Montagliani. Montagliani leads Concacaf, the soccer confederation for North and Central America and the Caribbean.

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The announcement is likely to come Monday. That may provide further details regarding how the three nations plan to split the games between venues.

It would be the first time in history that three countries had bid together to host the world’s most second-most valuable sporting tournament after the Summer Olympics. The U.S. had bid on its own for the rights to host the 2022 tournament but lost out to Qatar in a process widely condemned as rigged. FIFA denies the allegations, but they featured prominently in 2015 when numerous FIFA officials were arrested on corruption charges. The subsequent revelations led to the resignation of FIFA’s long-serving chief, Sepp Blatter.

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Swiss-Italian Gianni Infantino was elected last year to succeed Blatter, largely on a promise to expand the World Cup to ensure that the revenue it generates is spread more evenly around the world. The 2014 tournament in Brazil generated a record $4.8 billion in commercial revenues.

Many say expanding the tournament beyond the current 32-team format would strain the capacity of many countries to host it. FIFA may not make its pick for the 2026 games until 2020.

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