Avoiding a “Red Card”: 2026 FIFA World Cup focus of new joint competition law enforcement initiative

On September 22, 2023, the United States Department of Justice (“DOJ”), Federal Economic Competition Commission of Mexico (“COFECE”), and Competition Bureau Canada (“CCB”) announced a joint initiative “to deter, detect and prosecute collusive schemes related to the provision of goods and services in connection with the 2026 FIFA World Cup” (the “FIFA Initiative”).  The United States, Canada and Mexico are jointly hosting the 2026 FIFA World Cup, which is scheduled to be held in 11 cities in the U.S., three cities in Mexico, and two cities in Canada from June through July 2026.   

Announcing the FIFA Initiative, Assistant Attorney General Jonathan Kanter of the DOJ’s Antitrust Division stated that given the “billions of dollars in economic activity” the 2026 World Cup is expected to bring to the host countries,1 DOJ intends to be “vigilant in detecting anticompetitive conduct by any businesses and individuals that exploit the economic opportunities created by the games.”  COFECE Chairwoman Andrea Marván stressed that her agency will “be as vigilant as ever to guarantee that the economic benefits derived from [the 2026 World Cup] are not affected by anti-competitive conducts that could harm both local and international fans.”  And CCB Commissioner Matthew Boswell similarly committed to pursuing “those who seek to unjustly profit from the World Cup.”

FIFA Initiative will lead to enhanced scrutiny of World Cup-related business.  Antitrust compliance should be a top priority for businesses providing goods or services for the 2026 World Cup

The FIFA Initiative means that these competition agencies will work together to prevent and prosecute any potential procurement fraud and antitrust violations.  This also means that, in the U.S., DOJ will be putting significant resources into its 2026 World Cup enforcement efforts. The competition agencies  will undoubtedly focus on any business venture related to the 2026 World Cup, including, but not limited to, construction, vending, security, travel and tourism, hospitality, transportation and logistics, advertising, and entertainment. 

Businesses providing goods or services related to the 2026 World Cup should make competition law compliance a high priority.  Cartel conspiracies (bid rigging, price fixing, and allocation schemes) are criminal offenses in the U.S., Canada, and Mexico and can result in large criminal fines and prison for culpable individuals.  The U.S. takes an expansive view of its jurisdiction to prosecute cartel conduct; if cartel conduct affects U.S. commerce, the U.S. will prosecute the offense, regardless of where the relevant goods are made or sold, services are provided, or an agreement is reached.  It is important to be aware of the potential risk and develop a proactive compliance strategy early, before authorities investigate.

Looking ahead

Every company doing business related to the 2026 World Cup, should review and update its antitrust compliance policies, conduct updated antitrust compliance training, and consider contacting experienced criminal antitrust counsel to minimize potential risks.



Authored by Katie Hellings and Dan Shulak.

1 Host cities include Atlanta, Boston, Dallas, Houston, Kansas City (MO), Los Angeles, New Jersey/New York, Miami, Philadelphia, San Francisco Bay area, and Seattle in the U.S., Guadalajara, Mexico City, and Monterey in Mexico, and Toronto and Vancouver in Canada.
Katie Hellings
Washington, D.C.
Dan Shulak
Washington, D.C.


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