The FIFA World Cup has been staged 22 times over the past 93 years, and only once has the quadrennial event been hosted by more than one country, and never split between more than one continent.

The next phase of the tournament’s evolution is going to look very different, as revealed last week in a speedy development that caught fans off-guard like a goalkeeper too far off his line.

The 2030 tournament, as we now know, will take place in no fewer than six (SIX!) countries across three continents separated by 6,000 miles. If there is one big takeaway to come from it all is that everything we have known before is essentially useless in trying to figure out what happens next, and that soccer’s ultimate global showpiece is never going to look quite the same again.

The announcement happened with such swiftness and surprise there wasn’t time to reflect how the shakeup might affect the United States, always a highly considered and willing candidate when it comes to staging international events of major importance.

In honesty, at first glance it seems there would be no need to even cast your mind over that piece to the puzzle, given that the 2026 World Cup is already locked in to happen here, with some games also going to Mexico and Canada.

But … wait a minute.

While the previous status quo has dictated that nations which recently hosted a World Cup wouldn’t be getting one back for a long, long time, the new way of things could alter that thought process markedly.

If more countries in more parts of the world are going to be involved in laying out the welcome mat for tournaments, the whole process gets accelerated. And it doesn’t take a great deal of mischievous thought or creative wondering to see a path whereby a World Cup could hit American shores for a third time, as soon as 2038.

For decades, World Cups alternated between Europe and South America, as those were the two parts of the world where the game had widespread popularity. After soccer became ever-more global, things changed, and in modern times FIFA has operated on a continental rotation system of varying rigidity, meaning that if, say, a European nation hosted a World Cup, that continent and its confederation (UEFA), weren’t going to be getting it back four, or probably even eight years later.

Therefore, Qatar’s hosting rights in 2022 created an issue for fellow Asian nation Saudi Arabia in its attempt to land 2030, but does now open things up for Saudi to be an overwhelming favorite for 2034.

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That’s because, with six confederations in FIFA but only five (minus Oceania) having appropriate size and facility requirements to host a men’s World Cup, the rotation gets logjammed if you start sharing tournaments around.

If we are to look at 2038, an argument could be made that without a policy shift, Europe (due to Spain and Portugal), Africa (Morocco), and possibly South America (Uruguay, Argentina and Paraguay will stage 2030’s first three games), are knocked out of the running by the recent announcement.

If Asia, as expected, is granted 2034 – and that confederation has publicly stated it will be throwing its weight behind the Saudi Arabia bid – then by the time 2038 rolls around, only two continents would have not held a World Cup in the preceding eight years.

That would be Oceania, which probably doesn’t have enough large stadiums to do so by itself, and CONCACAF, the confederation that incorporates of North and Central America and the Caribbean. And where, soccer fans will need no reminding, the United States has by far the greatest capacity to host a World Cup, especially now the tournament has expanded to 48 teams and likely 104 games each rendition.

Currently, this is nothing more than idle talk, and FIFA and its members have more than enough on their plate figuring out the logistics for 2030, and analyzing the bidding competition for 2034, to be peering any deeper than that into the future.

For U.S. fans, however, it does open up a delicious possibility.

[With an eye on the next World Cup, the USMNT is relishing its rare chance to face Germany]

It is not hard to guess how American soccer authorities would put together a case. Reality, and how the World Cup has grown, almost does the job for them.

There are two parts to this. One is that having multiple co-hosts brings the dream of hosting World Cup games into play for countries that could never otherwise conceive of such an eventuality. Uruguay (pop. 3.4 million), which will get the opening match in 2030, is a prime example.

The other part is that with expansion and so many matches, the need for big nations with high numbers of appropriate venues will increase. Sure, six countries will share the burden in 2030, but the whole thing is anchored by Spain, and its glut of big cities and high-level stadiums.

An American bid that shared a game or two with each of some CONCACAF neighbors such as Costa Rica, Jamaica, Trinidad and Tobago, or Panama, would present a strong argument. 

If it was ruled that the limited South American involvement in 2030 (just three total games) doesn’t really count, what about games in Colombia, Chile, Peru and Ecuador to attach to a U.S. bid?

If we’ve seen one thing from the past week, is it the establishment of a new way of thinking and a new way of doing things. Nothing is off the table now.

Not even the thought of another American-hosted World Cup, before the next one has even happened.

Martin Rogers is a columnist for FOX Sports and the author of the FOX Sports Insider newsletter. Follow him on Twitter @MRogersFOX and subscribe to the daily newsletter.

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