The joint bid of the United States, Mexico and Canada has won the right to host the 2026 FIFA World Cup, beating Morocco in Wednesday’s vote.
Infantino, an Italian, is believed to strongly support the North American bid because the three countries involved backed him for the presidency in 2016 when he took over after the reign of Blatter.
The North American proposal had lined up high-profile backers, including soccer star David Beckham, who said that “the World Cup deserves to be in great places”, and U.S. President Donald Trump, who combined support for the bid with a veiled threat to those that planned to vote for competing offers.
The soccer showpiece will return to the USA for the first time since 1994 after gaining 134 votes, while Morocco got 65 at the FIFA Congress in Moscow on Wednesday.
As part of the rehabilitation process, FIFA allowed every nation to vote on the 2026 location, whereas the prior process allowed the input of only the federation’s major players.
Thankfully, due to a rule change, World Cup hosts now are no longer decided by a committee of 22 whose choices remain secret, but by more than 200 voters, one representing each of FIFA’s members.
Elections that handed the World Cup to Russian Federation in 2018 and Qatar in 2022 have since been the target of allegations of bribery and spelled the end for Blatter.
Mexico has twice hosted the World Cup, in 1970 and 1986.
CONCACAF, whose president – Canadian Victor Montagliani – played a key role in the bid, called the vote a “monumental victory” for the confederation that covers North and Central America and the Caribbean. That’s the spirit of the World Cup.
“It’s a bit emotional for us today”, Carlos Cordeiro, president of U.S. Soccer, said after the vote.
Branded United 2026, the North American bid’s venues would be selected from among a total 23 stadiums that exist or already are under construction, including three each in Mexico and Canada.
Robbie Williams will sing at the opening ceremony of the Football World Cup in Moscow’s Luzhniki Stadium.
The World Cup will expand to 48 teams and 80 games for 2026 and the US will stage 60 of those matches.
Three countries from Canada and three countries from Mexico were also submitted, leaving the United States with the bulk of the hosting duty – with 17 cities submitted in the longlist.
Historically, the host nation has always automatically qualified for the World Cup – it hasn’t been forced to play games in order to qualify for the tournament.
On paper, a joint U.S. -Canada-Mexico bid should be a near lock to win, offering better facilities, deeper infrastructure and almost twice the revenues of the only other bidder, Morocco.
The United States would stage 60 games, and MetLife Stadium in suburban New York City is proposed for the final.
Morocco’s fifth bid, which had former Super Eagles forward, Daniel Amokachi, as a spokesperson at Wednesday’s Congress, probably fell at the better profit margin promised by the United bid – $14.3 billion as to $7.2 billion promised by the Moroccan bid.
Of the 16 host cities, 10 will be in the United States while the remainder will be split evenly between Canada and Mexico.