The next World Cup will look a bit different

If it didn’t feel quite right cracking a beer at 10 am to enjoy with your World Cup viewing this year, here’s some good news: The 2026 tournament will be in a more familiar timezone, with Canada, Mexico, and the US splitting hosting duties—and it’s going to look a lot different than what we just saw in Qatar.

Driving the news: The next World Cup will expand to include a record 48 teams, up from the 32 that competed in Qatar. 

  • As a host country, Canada is guaranteed a spot in the tournament, but this expansion means countries that you don’t typically see in the World Cup—like China and Norway—are also more likely to secure a berth.
  • Africa will also send almost twice as many nations to the 2026 tournament, a sign of the continent’s growing strength in the soccer world. 

Why it matters: The changes will mean more games, a longer tournament, and—crucially—more money. 

  • FIFA—the body that oversees international soccer—expects to collect around US$11 billion of revenue, largely through the sale of media rights, sponsorships, and tickets.

The biggest benefit for host cities, including Toronto and Vancouver, comes from tourism, not revenue earned directly from the games.

  • Toronto expects the World Cup will generate just over $300 million in economic activity, around the same as it will cost to build the infrastructure and organize the services required to host the games.
  • The BC government has made rosier projections, claiming the Cup will bring $1 billion in revenue to the province’s tourism sector over five years while costing $260 million.

Bottom line: The World Cup almost never ends up being a money maker for the countries that host it, but it will still be fun to cheer on Canada with a home crowd.