The choice for North America for the 2026 Football World Cub is very justifiable. And not just because of the money. No, another argument is that the organization of a World Cup can also help to give an increased push to the increased interest that is already clearly visible in the United States in recent years. And with over 327 million inhabitants, the US is one of the largest growth markets for the sport. Because in Mexico (125 million inhabitants) football has been the biggest sport for decades, while in Canada (46 million inhabitants) people probably will always be more focused on winter sports.
The popularity of football in the US as a viewing sport has increased enormously in the last 10 years. In the country where for decades people spoke of “The Big Four” – the four major American competitions: NFL (American Football), MLB (Baseball), NBA (Basketball) and the NHL (Ice Hockey) – the latter has since been overtaken by football.
Another way to visualize the growth of football in North America is to show the difference between the ‘entrance fee’ of a number of Major League Soccer (MLS) clubs – the highest football competition – and their current value.
For people who are not familiar with the system of professional competitions in North America. That is completely different from what we are used to in Europe. It means that a competition is set up in such a way that teams can buy a place in that competition. It is a closed system (originally from Major League Baseball), without a promotion or relegation scheme. It is true that since the start of the MLS, a number of clubs have left the league, and a number of new teams have bought themselves into the competition.
With regard to the latter, New York City FC is a good example. The club, which is 80% owned by the City FC Holding and 20% owned by the famous baseball team New York Yankees, paid an entrance fee of 100 million dollars but is now worth 275 million dollars. And what about LA Galaxy?. That team paid only 5 million dollars at the start of the MLS, but would now represent a value of $ 315 million. In any case, it underlines once again the growth that football has experienced in the US in recent years. If we compare stadium attendance of matches in the MLS with other competitions, then football is already number three.