North American World Cup would create $5 billion in economic activity - study

A football fan poses for photographs next to the FIFA world cup trophy which starts a 50 country global tour from the Sri Lankan capital after Sri Lankan Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe (not pictured) unveiled it at a ceremony in Colombo, Sri Lanka January 24, 2018. REUTERS/Dinuka Liyanawatte

(Reuters) - A tri-nation North American bid to host the 2026 soccer World Cup could create over $5 billion (3.59 billion pounds) in economic activity for the area if it wins the right to stage the tournament, according to a study published on Thursday.

The United States, Mexico and Canada are bidding to host the 48-team tournament, which will be the largest in World Cup history, and The Boston Consulting Group (BCG) said hosting the event would support about 40,000 jobs across North America.

"Our assessment found that if the United Bid Committee is successful in its bid to host the 2026 FIFA World Cup, it could generate significant short-term economic activity and numerous other benefits across Canada, Mexico, and the United States," Cliff Grevler, senior partner at BCG, said in a statement put out by the United Bid Committee.

The study isolated the effects of the World Cup from economic activity that would happen anyway, such as ongoing infrastructure improvements and regular international tourism.

According to the North American bid committee, a unique feature of the joint proposal is that the three countries are relying on pre-built infrastructure that will reduce the cost of hosting.

Morocco is the only other country to have put forward a bid for the finals, which will be the first to feature an expanded 48-team format.

Formal submission of the completed bids has to be made by mid-March and FIFA will decide whether to select one of the candidates at its congress in June 2019, or to re-open the process to other regions if none of the bids are accepted.

(Reporting by Frank Pingue in Toronto, editing by Ed Osmond)

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