- The United States, Canada and Mexico formally submitted their joint bid on Friday to host the 2026 FIFA World Cup. The three countries put forward a total of 23 cities — 17 in the U.S., and three each in Canada and Mexico — to host international soccer’s showpiece event and promised "a fully-ready and reliable transportation and travel infrastructure."
- The full bid has not yet been released publicly since its submission to FIFA, the world soccer’s governing body. But in a press release touting the countries’ proposal, the joint committee for the three nations noted the existing infrastructure and plans to innovate with new technology.
- The bid committee, called United2026, also promised the tournament will be carbon neutral and environmentally sustainable. FIFA will decide between the joint bid and a rival bid from Morocco on June 13.
Specific details of the bid’s impact on the host cities may be thin right now, but a rendering produced by United2026 displays myriad features associated with smart cities, including connected autonomous vehicles (AVs) and a storage facility for those AVs; public transportation including links from a city’s waterfront; and autonomous drones to monitor traffic, events and security.
The bid team has already established an “Innovation and Technology Working Group” it says is “filled with leading technologists, investors, and pioneers” and is available throughout the bidding and potential hosting process. And the bid promises to be environmentally sustainable, with stadiums promised to have the “highest level of sustainable building certifications” at a carbon neutral event that has “net positive biodiversity benefits.”
The bid echoes similar sporting events in recent times that have placed an emphasis on public transportation and other innovations. This year’s Super Bowl in downtown Minneapolis promised to be the "most transit-reliant Super Bowl ever played," and ramped up its light rail and bus service to accommodate the estimated 73,000 fans, dignitaries and other assorted attendees.
And future Olympic Games have made similar promises about the impact of innovative technology and transportation. The Summer Games in Paris in 2024 are already planning for a "digital Olympics" driven by phone apps, while the Los Angeles-hosted Olympics in 2028 are the driver for Mayor Eric Garcetti’s "28 by 28" initiative that aims to complete 28 regional transit projects before the games begin.
While organizers continue to emphasize the use of transportation, new and existing infrastructure and technology, the last Olympic Games in Brazil city Rio De Janeiro should sound an alarm. At those Olympics, organizers promised a slew of infrastructure improvements, and despite racing to get everything ready on time, fell short of expectations.