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June 14, 2018

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North American trio beats Morocco to 2026 WCup

THE 2026 World Cup will be held in the United States, Mexico and Canada after FIFA’s Congress voted overwhelmingly yesterday to back the tri-nation joint bid to host the tournament, with Morocco missing out for the fifth time.

The North American bid collected 134 votes to the 65 for Morocco. One Congress member voted for “neither bid”.

The 2026 finals will be the first expanded tournament featuring 48 teams, up from the current 32-team event, which kicks off in Russia today.

Both bids were given a last chance to make their case with 15-minute presentations in front of the Congress at the Moscow Expocentre.

The North Americans pledged their tournament would generate an US$11-billion profit while Morocco, which has now failed in five bids to host the World Cup, said it would make US$5 billion.

Although it will be the first World Cup to be hosted by three nations, the vast majority of matches will be held in the US.

Of the 80 games, 60 will be played in the US, with 10 each in Canada and Mexico. The final will be hosted at MetLife Stadium in New Jersey, home to the National Football League’s New York Giants and New York Jets.

Ten of the eventual 16 chosen venues for the tournament will be in the US, with Mexico and Canada having three venues each.

The US previously hosted the World Cup in 1994 while Mexico staged it in 1970 and 1986. Canada has never staged a men’s World Cup but it did hold the women’s tournament in 2015.

A US bid lost out in the vote eight years ago for the 2022 World Cup, which was handed to Qatar, and US Soccer Federation president Carlos Cordiero said it had been a long road to get the tournament back to the country.

“It was overwhelmingly emotional for everyone, not just for myself. A lot of very hard work and effort has gone into this campaign... You know, we ran and lost eight years ago. We appreciated that as much as you can do, you are not guaranteed victory,” he said.

Intriguingly, the US bid won the vote of Russia which had previously been behind the Moroccan effort.

“We had a clear path to victory which involved garnering support from all confederations, including, I might add, Africa,” said Cordiero.

“We feel good today with the result, some (votes) came our way in the last 72 hours, not just Russia,” he said.

Both US President Donald Trump and his Mexican counterpart Enrique Pena Nieto took to twitter to express their delight at the win as did Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.

The Moroccan bid had expected a closer result and some of their backers felt they had been let down by potential allies.

“Of course, it’s really sad because we were counting on our friends, the countries that are close to us, that are long-time friends. And today they betrayed us,” Moroccan Olympic champion runner Hicham El Guerrouj, who was active with the bid team, said.

The last time FIFA voted on World Cup hosting rights was in 2010, the decision then resting with the old executive committee which chose Russia to host the 2018 finals and Qatar for 2022.

Several members of that committee were later banned from the sport after they were caught up in the corruption scandal that engulfed world football’s governing body in 2015.

Under FIFA’s new system for choosing the host, all eligible football federations who attend Congress were given a vote.


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