North Amer­ica is 2026 World Cup host

Cebu Daily News - - SPORTS -

MOSCOW — North Amer­ica will host the 2026 World Cup after FIFA vot­ers over­whelm­ingly opted for the fi­nan­cial and lo­gis­ti­cal cer­tainty of a United Statesled bid over a risky Moroc­can pro­posal for the first 48-team tour­na­ment.

The soccer show­piece will re­turn to the U.S. for the first time since 1994 after gain­ing 134 votes, while Morocco got 65 at the FIFA Congress in Moscow on Wed­nes­day.

The vote by football fed­er­a­tions was public, in con­trast to se­crecy sur­round­ing the bal­lot by FIFA’s elected board mem­bers for the 2018 and 2022 hosts, Russia and Qatar, in 2010.

The U.S. pro­posed stag­ing 60 out of the 80 games in 2026, when 16 teams will be added to the fi­nals, leav­ing Canada and Mex­ico with ten fix­tures each.

The U.S. is set to host all games from the quar­ter­fi­nals on­ward.

An op­ti­mistic prom­ise of de­liv­er­ing 14 bil­lion in rev­enue helped sway vot­ers, along with the lack of ma­jor con­struc­tion work re­quired on the 16 planned sta­di­ums, all of which al­ready ex­ist.

By con­trast, Morocco ap­peared too haz­ardous as a po­ten­tial host when all 14 venues had to be built or ren­o­vated as part of a 16 bil­lion in­vest­ment in new in­fra­struc­ture. The vote leaves Morocco reel­ing from a fifth fail­ure in a World Cup host­ing vote, with the conti- nent’s sole tour­na­ment com­ing in 2010 in South Africa.

While Morocco’s com­bined tick­ets and hos­pi­tal­ity rev­enue would be 1.07 bil­lion, ac­cord­ing to FIFA analysis, North Amer­ica would gen­er­ate 2 bil­lion ad­di­tional in­come.

Canada will host men’s World Cup matches for the first time, while Mex­ico gets its first taste of the event since stag­ing the en­tire event in 1986.

The 87,000-ca­pac­ity MetLife Sta­dium out­side New York is pro­posed for the fi­nal. It’s just miles from where fed­eral prose­cu­tors spear­headed an on­go­ing in­ves­ti­ga­tion into FIFA cor­rup­tion. More than 40 soccer of­fi­cials and busi­nesses in­dicted, con­victed or pleaded guilty.

The bribery scan­dal put the gov­ern­ing body on the brink, FIFA Pres­i­dent Gianni In­fantino told the congress ahead of Wed­nes­day’s vote.

“FIFA was clin­i­cally dead as an or­ga­ni­za­tion,” In­fantino said, re­flect­ing on his elec­tion in 2016. “Two years later, FIFA is alive and well, full of joy and pas­sion and with a vi­sion for its fu­ture.”

The North Amer­i­can vic­tory sug­gests football of­fi­cials are ready to gather for a World Cup in a coun­try whose govern­ment has demon­strated its will­ing­ness to jail cor­rupt sports lead­ers through un­der­cover in­ves­ti­ga­tions./

(AP)

Russia’s na­tional soccer team play­ers warm up dur­ing the of­fi­cial train­ing ses­sion of the Rus­sian team on the eve of the group A match be­tween Russia and Saudi Ara­bia at the 2018 soccer World Cup at Luzh­niki sta­dium in Moscow, Russia.

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