Insider Notes: 2026 World Cup bidding; Dunga's likely successor
FIFA holds its regular annual congress in Mexico City next month involving all 209 member nations, and we should expect to see an official timetable revealed for the bidding process for World Cup 2026.
The U.S. is expected to bid for that World Cup and to be the favorite to win the right to host (it didn't hurt that U.S. Soccer president Sunil Gulati lent crucial help to FIFA president Gianni Infantino on election day in late February), given that CONCACAF has not hosted a men's World Cup since the USA in 1994 and given the infrastructure the country has in place. Infantino told NBC Deportes just a few days ago that "the United States could host the World Cup tomorrow," citing the infrastructure, among other reasons.
One thing to keep in mind: China, which might otherwise be the U.S.’s most difficult challenger to host that World Cup, is not allowed to bid due to FIFA statutes preventing the same confederation from hosting consecutive World Cups. Asian confederation member Qatar is already set to host World Cup 2022, which rules out China for ’26.
Challenges to a potential U.S. bid should come from within CONCACAF, as Mexico and Canada have both already stated intentions to bid for the 2026 tournament.
Here are a couple of more insider notes from around Planet Fútbol:
Dunga has replacement lined up
No team in this summer’s Copa América has more questions surrounding it than Brazil, especially when it comes to its manager and its showcase talent. For starters, a source close to the Brazilian FA says national team coach Dunga will stay on at least through Copa América despite rumors that his job is in jeopardy due to poor World Cup qualifying results. That said, there is tension between Dunga and the CBF, and I’m told his likely replacement post-Copa would be Corinthians manager Tite.
As for Neymar’s participation in the Copa, the superstar's people will make one last-ditch effort with Barcelona to try and persuade the club to let him play in the Copa América and the Olympics. On Saturday, Barcelona's president said the club would only permit Neymar to play in the Olympics, but Neymar’s people want to give two Barça physical therapists daily access to Neymar during the two tournaments and frame the Olympics as a “Barça preseason” for Neymar.
Important MLS study nears conclusion
Major League Soccer is nearing the end of a sprawling year-long consumer research study by the Boston Consulting Group, the results of which will be used to determine important decisions by MLS teams as the league tries to reach its goal of becoming one of the world’s top soccer leagues by 2022. Some 45 million Americans consider themselves interested in MLS, but one of the study’s goals is to figure out how best to reach the 20 to 40 million Americans who consider themselves soccer fans but not MLS fans.
These studies matter. Ten years ago, MLS commissioned a similar study, and the top two findings were that fans wanted to see more international stars and wanted every MLS game on TV. That led to the owners approving the Designated Player rule and every MLS game being televised.