Fi­nally it’s here: World Cup buildup

Next fi­nals will be first tour­na­ment fea­tur­ing 48 teams, up from the cur­rent 32

The Daily Star (Lebanon) - - FRONT PAGE -

MOSCOW: The 2026 World Cup will be held in the United States, Mex­ico and Canada af­ter FIFA’s Congress voted over­whelm­ingly Wed­nes­day 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 tour­na­ment fea­tur­ing 48 teams, up from the cur­rent 32-team event which be­gins in Rus­sia Thurs­day.

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

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

Of the 80 games, 60 will be held in the U.S. with 10 each in Canada and Mex­ico. The fi­nal will be played 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 United States with Mex­ico and Canada hav­ing three venues each.

The U.S 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 U.S. bid lost out in the vote eight years ago for the 2022 World Cup, which was handed to Qatar, and U.S Foot­ball 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 U.S. bid won the vote of Rus­sia who 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,” Cordiero said.

“We feel good to­day with the re­sult, some [votes] came our way in the last 72 hours, not just Rus­sia.”

Both U.S. Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump and his Mex­i­can coun­ter­part En­rique Pena Ni­eto took to twit­ter to ex­press their delight at the win.

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, told Reuters.

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.

The re­sult has been a jet-set­ting cam­paign from both bids, whose team mem­bers have trav­elled the globe in an at­tempt to win over the world­wide elec­torate.

Cordeiro has said his bid would gen­er­ate $14 bil­lion in rev­enue and

make an $11 bil­lion profit for FIFA. The bid also ex­pects record ticket and hos­pi­tal­ity rev­enue.

The re­sult is a boost for FIFA pres­i­dent Gianni In­fantino who, while he main­tained neu­tral­ity dur­ing the cam­paign, was known to be keen to see the first ex­panded Word Cup be­ing held in North Amer­ica.

The 2018 tour­na­ment kicks off in Moscow Thurs­day when Rus­sia play Saudi Ara­bia. –

The re­sult is a boost for In­fantino who was keen to see the first ex­panded Word Cup be­ing held in North Amer­ica.

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