North Amer­ica will host 2026 Cup

Milwaukee Journal Sentinel - - Sports - Rob Harris and Gra­ham Dun­bar

MOSCOW – North Amer­ica will host the 2026 World Cup af­ter FIFA vot­ers over­whelm­ingly opted Wed­nes­day for the fi­nan­cial and lo­gis­ti­cal cer­tainty of a United States-led 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, where the 2018 Cup starts on Thurs­day.

“Thank you for en­trust­ing us with this priv­i­lege,” U.S. Soc­cer Fed­er­a­tion Pres­i­dent Car­los Cordeiro told the congress. “The beau­ti­ful game tran­scends bor­ders and cultures.”

The vote by na­tional foot­ball fed­er­a­tions was pub­lic, in con­trast to se­crecy sur­round­ing the 2010 vote when FIFA’s elected board mem­bers picked Rus­sia to host in 2018 and Qatar in 2022, de­feat­ing the U.S.

The re­gional bid proved more ap­peal­ing this time and the North Amer­i­cans even col­lected 11 votes from Africa.

“The United bid was strong and if it was just the United States, I think Morocco would have beaten them,” said Cameroon fed­er­a­tion of­fi­cial Kevin Njomo, whose coun­try voted for Morocco. “Peo­ple have a soft spot for Mex­ico, es­pe­cially look­ing at Mex­ico as a lit­tle bit un­der-de­vel­oped and giv­ing them a chance. Canada is a good tourist des­ti­na­tion.”

North Amer­ica op­ti­misti­cally promis­ing to de­liver $14 bil­lion in rev­enue helped, and the tour­na­ment won’t re­quire ma­jor con­struc­tion work re­quired on the 16 planned sta­di­ums, all of which al­ready ex­ist.

The U.S. pro­posed stag­ing 60 out of the 80 games in 2026, when 16 teams will be added to the tour­na­ment, leav­ing Canada and Mex­ico with 10 fix­tures each.

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