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Is the United 2026 World Cup game scheduling fair?

Many people in Mexico wrongly believe they got ‘mistreated’ and deserve more games than their current slate offers

68th FIFA Congress Photo by Catherine Ivill/Getty Images

The 2026 FIFA World Cup is set to take place in three different countries for the first time in the tournament’s history (USA, Mexico, and Canada). Mexico and USA have both hosted the worldwide event previously while this represents a first for Canada. This also represents the first time the tournament will expand its total amount of participating teams from 32 to 48.

While this World Cup edition is still six years away, much controversy has stemmed from the subject of the apparent game scheduling for the tournament. While there hasn’t been an official schedule released as of yet, the supposed division of games for each country stands as follows: 60 in USA, 10 in Mexico, and 10 in Canada. The 80 total games include all of the tournament’s rounds, from group stages all the way up to the final, although the most crucial games (from the Quarter Finals on) appear to be scheduled to take place solely in USA. Canada and Mexico’s 10 games are said to include only group stage and the first playoff round.

Many people in Mexico are not at ease with this situation. They don’t like the fact that Mexico got so ‘mistreated’ with their scheduling situation; a very small amount of games and none of them crucial or important, other than probably Mexico’s group stage matchups. But many fail to see the big picture here.

First off, what was ultimately named the North American World Cup bid was in fact led entirely by the United States Soccer Federation, together with the Canadian Soccer Association and the Mexican Football Federation (FMF). And there lays the key. The leader in the bid was the USA, therefore once it became a successful one, the USA rightfully so scheduled most of the games in their country. In no way is that an offensive decision, and people should not be outraged because of it, considering Mexico and Canada tagged along after USA took charge of the bid.

Second of all, and in my opinion the most important, are the vast travelling distances the National Teams will have to cross from country to country. Logistically speaking, it doesn’t make sense for the teams that travel the most distances, seeing that travel time could go anywhere from an hour to possibly eight or nine, depending on where the next game will be played and if there is an existing straight flight or not. The 2002 World Cup made sense because the travel distances between South Korea and Japan were minimal and didn’t make much of a difference considering how small and nearby both countries are. But when it comes to Canada, USA, and Mexico, all three are tremendously extensive in territory and far apart from one another. Teams may definitely suffer extra fatigue from travelling, something that hasn’t been much of a factor in any previous World Cup.

Another subject to consider, although many might not find it as important, is the extreme difference in weather conditions in certain parts of each country because of the countries being so broad. Not to mention, in Mexico for instance, summers reach temperatures of 90° to 100° F, while in the Northern parts of the USA and Canada, we see a big drop, usually in the range of 70° to 80° F, even possibly a bit cooler than that. Not only are the temperatures different, but the weather types as well. Summers in Canada and Northern USA are typically very humid, in contrast to the drier heat that one finds in Southern USA or most of Mexico. That makes a big difference in the outcome of a game because players’ fatigue and stamina are directly affected by these factors.

In short, it makes total sense for most games, and especially the final rounds to take place in one country; in this case USA, and rightfully so. It will undoubtedly help reduce the travel fatigue factor for the teams who travel the most distance and will help reduce the weather variations from each location, which could definitely help give certain teams an advantage. This will help even out conditions for teams in the later rounds of the World Cup. These factors make for a very logical current scheduling plan as we know it, and instead of being angry at their country not having gotten an equal set of matches as the USA, Mexico and Canada should be happy and thankful they at least get a chance to be witnesses to their country hosting World Cup matches, as it is something that rarely occurs.