By Michael Lewis
The World Cup is returning to North America.
FIFA Wednesday morning voted to award the 2026 World Cup to Canada, Mexico and the United States.
The United Bid of those three CONCACAF countries defeated the Morocco accrued 134 votes, as opposed to 65 for Morocco and one vote to have no host decided, during the 68th FIFA Congress in Moscow Wednesday.
It will be the first time three countries will share hosting responsibilities of the world’s largest sporting spectacle. The only other World Cup that featured multiple hosts was the 2002 event, in which South Korea and Japan shared the honors.
The 2026 World Cup also will be the first time 48 teams will participate in the tournament. It is expected to be held in June and July of that year.
So, the United States, which failed to qualify for the World Cup for the first time since 1986, scored a major victory on the eve of the quadrennial competition in Russia. Mexico, under the direction of former New York Red Bulls head coach Juan Carlos Osorio, is competing in this tournament. Canada hasn’t performed in a World Cup since 1986.
“Hosting the 2026 FIFA World Cup is a rare and important moment to demonstrate that we are all truly united through sport,” said U.S. Soccer president Carlos Cordeiro, co-chair of the United Bid. ‘We are humbled by the trust our colleagues in the FIFA family have put in our bid; strengthened by the unity between our three countries and the CONCACAF region; and excited by the opportunity we have to put football on a new and sustainable path for generations to come.”
The other two co-chairs of the United Bid Committee shared similar sentiments.
“Hosting a FIFA World Cup is an extraordinary honor and privilege,” Canada Soccer president Steven Reed said. “Canada, Mexico, and the United States are ready to welcome the world to North America and serve as stewards of the largest FIFA World Cup in history. Our vision is of a world of opportunity for our candidate host cities and for the global football community.”
Added Mexico Football Federation president Decio de Maria: “We are grateful for the chance to bring to life FIFA’s new vision for the future of football. Together — in partnership with our candidate host cities, the member Associations and FIFA — we will use this platform to unite the world around football and help create a new and sustainable blueprint for the future of FIFA World Cups.”
FIFA decided to go with the financial security of the United States-Canada-Mexico bid where all venues are ready, rather than with a Moroccan bid that needs to build or renovate all 14 stadiums.
FIFA member associations had three options: Morocco, the United Bid and none of the two entries.
The bids were studies in contrasts. Morocco promised $7.2 billion in profits, whereas the United Bid projected $14.3 billion.
During a presentation to the FIFA Congress right before the vote, the three presidents of the United Bid federations made the organization’s final push. Youth players from all federations also spoke — Vancouver Whitecaps FC’s Alphonso Davies, who is the Major League Soccer player of the week, U.S. Under-20 Brianna Pinto and Mexican U-21 player Diego Lainez.
Prior to Wednesday’s vote, CONCACAF has hosted the World Cup three times — Mexico twice in 1970 and 1986 and the United States in 1994.
Africa has played host once, with South Africa welcoming world in 2010.
Morocco has lost in four previous World Cup bid campaigns.
Hosting the 1994 World Cup turned out to be a watershed moment for American soccer as the sport received a much-needed boost after a highly successful tournament. Major League Soccer was born two years later.
The 2022 World Cup will be hosted by Qatar, which will include 32 teams.
Here’s how everyone voted: