North American trio to host 2026 World Cup
The United States, Mexico and Canada will host the 2026 World Cup after FIFA voters chose the North American trio over Morocco on Wednesday.
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.
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 continent'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.
President Donald Trump tweeted his approval : "The U.S., together with Mexico and Canada, just got the World Cup. Congratulations - a great deal of hard work!"
While Trump has been feuding with Canadian leaders over tariffs and Mexico about his proposed border wall, the political leaders are not heavily involved in the World Cup bid. Even if Trump wins re-election, his presidency will end before the 2026 World Cup.
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.
Spain fires coach 2 days before opening match
With only two days to go before Spain's opening match at the World Cup, Julen Lopetegui was fired as national team coach after accepting a job to lead Real Madrid next season.
Spanish soccer federation president Luis Rubiales, who made the announcement on Wednesday in Krasnodar, later said Fernando Hierro would replace Lopetegui as coach for Spain's match against Portugal in Sochi on Friday.
The 50-year-old Hierro, a former national team player and Real Madrid captain, will be taking on his first major coaching job. He had been acting as the federation's sports director and was already in Russia with the national team.
Rubiales said firing Lopetegui wasn't the best solution but it was needed after the federation was caught by surprise by Madrid's announcement.
"The federation cannot be left out of a negotiation by one of its workers and be informed five minutes before the press release," Rubiales said. "We have been compelled to act."
Delegates of Canada, Mexico and the United States celebrate after winning a joint bid to host the 2026 World Cup at the FIFA congress in Moscow on Wednesday. Standing on front row from left: Steve Reed, president of the Canadian Soccer Association, Carlos Cordeiro, U.S. soccer president and Decio de Maria, President of the Football Association of Mexico.