US, Mexico, Canada to Jointly Host 2026 World Cup, Beating Morocco

The 87,000-capacity MetLife Stadium near New York City was proposed for the final

FIFA voted Wednesday to play the 2026 World Cup in North America, with the United States, Mexico and Canada jointly hosting.

More than 200 national football federations took part in the vote in Moscow at their annual meeting one day before the 2018 World Cup kicks off.

The North American bid won 134 votes, while Morocco got 65. 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.

FIFA members were picking between the financial security of the United States-Canada-Mexico bid, where all venues are ready, and a Moroccan bid that needed to build or renovate all 14 stadiums for a 48-team tournament.

Mexico has twice hosted the World Cup, in 1970 and 1986, the U.S. hosted in 1994, while Morocco had lost in four previous bid campaigns.

The host nation of the World Cup qualifies automatically, but the joint bid complicates the picture. South Korea and Japan, the only other nations to host jointly, both qualified automatically in 2002, but the FIFA Council will decide if all three North American countries will automatically feature in the tournament in 2026. (Canada has only qualified for one other World Cup, the 1986 World Cup in Mexico.)

The joint bid from North America offers a choice from 23 stadiums including three each in Canada and Mexico, which are each scheduled to host 10 games. The United States would stage 60 games, and the 87,000-capacity MetLife Stadium near New York is proposed for the final.

"The world's biggest sporting event is returning to our shores!" the U.S. Soccer Federation tweeted.

President Donald Trump offered his congratulations on Twitter as well: "The U.S., together with Mexico and Canada, just got the World Cup. Congratulations - a great deal of hard work!"

Trump set aside grievances with Mexico and Canada, with whom he is trying to renegotiate the North American Free Trade Agreement, to quietly lobby for the joint World Cup bid against a strong challenge from Morocco, according to a report in The New York Times.

Copyright AP - Associated Press
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