U.S., Mexico, Canada to Host 2026 FIFA World Cup
The World’s most prestigious sporting event is coming back to the United States. On Wednesday, the joint bid between the U.S., Mexico and Canada defeated Morocco, the lone challenger, for the rights to host the 2026 FIFA World Cup.
200 national soccer federations from around the globe cast their ballots. The 3-country bid earned 134 of the possible 200 votes, with Morocco receiving 65. Iran was the lone nation to choose either option. Spain, Cuba and Slovenia abstained from the vote altogether. The Spanish delegation was absent from the vote handling its own disaster of a coaching situation.
Carlos Cordeiro, the newly-elected president of U.S. Soccer, said,
“This is an incredible, and incredibly important, moment for soccer in North America and beyond.”
The 2026 FIFA World Cup will feature an expanded field of 48 teams, up from the 32 that compete now. This is also the first time in the history of FIFA that the World Cup will be hosted by 3 nations simultaneously. The last time any 2 countries shared the honor was back in 2002 when South Korea and Japan were co-hosts.
This will be the first World Cup on U.S. soil since 1994, and it will be the first time Mexico has hosted since 1986. Canada has never hosted a World Cup. Those behind the joint bid pushed the importance of continuing to expand the popularity of the sport into the North American continent, most specifically in the United States. 60 of the 80 games in 2026 are expected to be played in the United States, with Canada and Mexico hosting 10 apiece. All games from the quarterfinal stages and onward will be in the U.S.
There were fears that Morocco would ultimately win the vote after a late surge in momentum, but it was not to be. The United States thought they would be hosting the upcoming 2022 tournament, but Qatar shockingly won the vote amid some shady business. The FBI has since unearthed evidence that the vote to hand the tournament to Qatar was laden with bribery and other misdeeds.
The vote that gave the win to Qatar was handled under FIFA’s old system. Under the old guidelines, just a few dozen FIFA executives would decide which bid would be the winner. The FBI and Department of Justice subsequently made a slew of arrests in connection with the sketchy dealings, and FIFA overhauled the voting process as a result.
Leaders behind the 3-nation bid have spent the last several months on the road attempting to meet with as many other federation leaders as possible. Because they assumed Morocco would garner most of the votes coming from Africa, the North American delegation primarily focused on securing votes in the Western Hemisphere and select locations across Asia and Europe.
The 3-nation bid did have to answer questions and address concerns from other federations regarding the current political status in in the U.S., as president Donald Trump has drawn the ire of many for his handling of certain matters involving foreigners. Instead, the U.S. played to its obvious strengths – infrastructure and money.
Morocco would have had to invest about $16 billion in order to upgrade infrastructure in order to host the World Cup, which was a massive blow to the federation’s hopes of winning the vote. A subsequent FIFA report also showed that Morocco failed to disclose its anti-LGBT laws when they had their human rights policies evaluated.
Cordeiro believes having the 2026 World Cup in the U.S. will do wonders for the popularity of the growing sport. He said,
“I make the argument that we are a vast, powerful, wealthy nation, but we have haves and have-nots, and our disenfranchised are underserved, and in many ways these are people with whom the sport resonates most. If we can bring them into the game, we’ll go from 4 million to 12 million participants. Every little kid who is 10 years old and says, ‘I want to play in that World Cup 10 years from now’ – well, why can’t they?”
Former U.S. Soccer president Sunil Gulati, who decided against running for re-election after the U.S. failed to qualify for the 2018 World Cup, set the wheels in motion for the 3-team bid several years ago. Gulati said,
“On Dec. 2, 2010, I couldn’t decide if I ever wanted to go anywhere near this ever again or if we should start working on the next one right away. But I’m glad we did. And this is a really fantastic day for soccer.”
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