The United States, Canada and Mexico all scored a big victory on Wednesday after FIFA, world soccer’s governing body, approved their joint campaign to host the 2026 World Cup.
U.S., Canada And Mexico To Host 2026 World Cup
The decision was made at FIFA’s congress in Moscow, Russia, where this year’s World Cup is being held. The three North American countries beat out Morocco, the only other candidate, for the 2026 tournament hosting rights by a vote of 134-65.
This marks the first time the global soccer tournament is hosted by three nations. The U.S. previously hosted the World Cup in 1994, while the competition took place in Mexico in 1970 and 1986. Canada has never hosted the men’s World Cup, although it hosted the Women’s World Cup in 2015.
SLIDESHOW: SPORTS FIGURES WHO DIED IN 2017
The 2026 World Cup will also be the first time the soccer tournament is expanded to include 48 national teamscompared to its current 32. Thus, 80 games are expected to be played in total instead of 64. This new decision comes under the leadership of Gianni Infantino, who took over as FIFA president in February 2016. Infantino replaced fellow Swiss Sepp Blatter, who resigned as president in late 2015 amid a giant corruption scandal that involved bribery, money laundering and other financial crimes. Blatter — who has been banned from FIFA until 2022 — had endorsed Morocco to host the 2026 World Cup. Qatar will play host for the 2022 soccer tournament.
The move to increase the number of countries competing in the World Cup, made early last year, received mixed reactions. Critics said including more teams would hurt the competition level and could lead to financial problems due to the need to build more stadiums and broadcast more games, among other reasons.
“Football is the only victor. We are all united in football,” US Soccer president Carlos Cordeiro, who was elected in February, said on Wednesday. “Thank you so, so much for this incredible honor. Thank you for entrusting us with this privilege.”
Out of the 211 member countries of FIFA, 200 cast their vote on Wednesday for the 2026 hosting bid, according to BBC. Officials from some nations reportedly voiced concern over the U.S.’s gun and visa laws before making their decision.
SLIDESHOW: 30 Best Sports Instagrams!
Allegations of bribery and vote-buying had also plagued the 2018 and 2022 World Cup hosting decisions. In the case of Qatar, there were also claims that workers’ rights have been abused while construction employees strive to build stadiums in the country.
According to The New York Times, the U.S. Soccer Federation “spent more than $6 million — out of a combined budget of about $8 million — to bring the World Cup back to North America.”
Of the 80 games played at the 2026 World Cup, 10 will be held in Mexico and Canada each, while the U.S. will host the other 60 matches, including the final. The final will be played at the New York Giants’ MetLife Stadium in East Rutherford, New Jersey.
On Tuesday, The New York Times reported that President Donald Trump had recently written three letters addressed to Infantino that may have played a large role in the decision to let the U.S. co-host the 2026 World Cup.
This decision also comes after Trump has been feuding with Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau over trade following the G7 summit, which was held in Quebec over the weekend.
The World Cup has garnered a growing number of American fans in recent years, even in 2018 after the U.S. failed to qualify. The U.S. has thus far sold the second-highest number of tickets for this year’s tournament after Russia.
Argentina, Uruguay and Paraguay are reportedly also bidding to host the 2030 FIFA World Cup, which will mark the 100th anniversary of the tournament.