A joint bid by the three North American countries under the name ’United’ saw off the challenge of a rival proposal from Morocco, winning over two-thirds of the vote.
The United bid persuaded 134 of the 203 delegates eligible to vote at the 68th annual Fifa congress, which was held on the eve of the 2018 tournament in Russia.
Morocco hoped to become the second African nation to host the tournament but earned just 65 votes on Wednesday and suffered defeat in a World Cup bidding process for the fifth time. One delegate, representing Iran, voted ‘none of the above’.
2026 will therefore see the World Cup return to North America for the first time since 1994, when the United States hosted alone. Mexico has staged the World Cup twice previously, in 1970 and 1986, while Canada hosted the Women’s World Cup in 2015.
The 2026 tournament will also be the second World Cup hosted in more than one country, following Japan and South Korea’s joint effort in 2002. Canada and Mexico will stage just 10 games each, however. The United States will host 60 matches in total, including all games from the quarter-finals onwards.
Carlos Cordeiro, the president of US Soccer and one of the United bid’s figureheads, told the Fifa congress: “It’s a bit emotional for us today. Thank you so, so very much for this incredible honour. Thank you for entrusting us with the privilege of hosting the FIFA World Cup in 2026.
“The beautiful game transcends borders and cultures. Football today is the only victor. And in that spirit we wish all Russian hosts and all the teams competing here the very best of luck.”
The United bid was considered the front-runner from the start of the process in 2017 and expects its tournament to generate approximately $14bn (£10.3bn) in revenue, including an $11bn (£8.1bn) profit for Fifa. This year’s World Cup in Russia, by comparison, expects a turnover of $6.1bn (£4.58bn).
Morocco’s 2026 proposal gained momentum as the process went on but logistical concerns regarding stadiums, accommodation and transportation hung over the bid from the start.
Fifa’s inspection task force rated hosting a World Cup in Morocco as “high risk” last month, awarding the country a rating of 2.7 out of 5. The North American bid, meanwhile, received a score of 4 out of 5 and was deemed to be a low risk proposal. Delegates at Wednesday’s congress were reminded of the findings by Fifa’s general secretary Fatma Samoura shortly before voting commenced.
Fouzi Lekjaa, the president of the Royal Moroccan Football Federation, vowed that the country would not give up on its ‘dream’ of a Moroccan World Cup. This latest failed bid followed others for the 1994, 1998, 2006 and 2010 tournaments.
“I wish to congratulate Fifa for the conduct of this process and congratulate the president for what he has done in order to move things towards more transparency and more inclusion,” he said.
“I would like to reaffirm the determination of my country to continue to work for football and realise one day our dream to host the World Cup in Morocco.”
Donald Trump’s policy on immigration, including his promise to build a wall along the US-Mexico border, made a joint bid involving the two countries politically sensitive. In April, the US president’s veiled threat towards countries who might vote against the bid led Fifa to refer to guidelines on political interference.
Trump congratulated the United bid on securing the tournament via social media. “The U.S., together with Mexico and Canada, just got the World Cup. Congratulations – a great deal of hard work,” he tweeted.
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