It’s official: the United States, Canada and Mexico will host World Cup 2026, as the United Bid received 134 votes, easily edging out Morocco and its 65 votes.
North America hasn’t hosted World Cup matches since 1994, when the United States was host country. Canada has never hosted World Cup matches, and it’s been 1986 since Mexico hosted World Cup matches. Of the 80 scheduled matches, 60 will be held in the United States, with 10 each in Mexico and Canada. The final will be hosted by MetLife Stadium in New Jersey.
In the end, it was all about ease and money, as FIFA members for the first time openly voted on a World Cup host. The North American bid called for no new stadium construction, instead utilizing 23 existing MLS, NFL, bowl and national stadiums across the continent, all with their own infrastructure (major airports, hotels). And it called for $11 billion in profits, a potential windfall of $50 million for every national association. From The New York Times:
“The United Bid is proposing an offer that is mainly a business proposal for football,” one Moroccan official, Moncef Belkhayat, said Monday. “Their offer is based on dollars, on profit, while Morocco is offering an offer that is based on passion for football, for development of football — not only in Morocco, but also in Africa.”
Morocco’s proposal, too, came with serious concerns. The 2026 World Cup will be the first with 48 teams, a significant expansion from the current 32 and a massive undertaking for any host, especially one going it alone. Morocco would have needed to spend billions of dollars to build nine stadiums and to significantly renovate five others, and do all of it in eight years — four fewer than the 12 FIFA gave to Qatar, which still has not finished the job of getting ready for the 2022 World Cup.
Then there were the hotels, the highways, the rail links and the facilities to host a tournament set to bring more than 1,100 players and millions of fans to North Africa; all would have needed to be built, at a cost of billions more.
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