A combined bid from the United States, Mexico and Canada won the hosting rights for soccer’s 2026 World Cup on Wednesday, bringing the tournament to North America for the first time since the 1994 event on a pledge of record crowds, record revenues and, perhaps crucially, a record $11 billion in profits for FIFA, world soccer’s governing body.
The North American bid defeated its only challenger, Morocco, by a vote of 134-65.
“Thank you for the incredible privilege,” U.S. Soccer President Carlos Cordeiro told the FIFA members in a short speech after the vote, adding, “Football today is the only victor.”
It will be the first time the World Cup is hosted by three countries, but a vast majority of the tournament will be on United States soil. Of the 80 matches, 10 will be held in Canada, 10 in Mexico and 60 in the United States — including the final, at MetLife Stadium in New Jersey.
The last time the men’s World Cup was in North America was when the United States hosted in 1994. It was held in Mexico in 1970 and 1986, and Canada has never hosted.
Wednesday’s vote was the first in which each FIFA member association was given a say on where the World Cup would be held, and the North Americans rode to victory on a wave of support from the Americas, Europe and Asia, plus a few votes poached from Africa.
After months of meetings and arm-twisting, a campaign that began last August when Morocco jumped into the race on the final day that countries could announce their intention to bid, ended in an instant: with electronic vote totals suddenly flashing onto a giant screen.
The victory spared U.S. Soccer a second stunning defeat in less than a year; the United States men’s team is missing the World Cup this summer, its first absence since 1986. The American federation spent more than $6 million — out of a combined budget of about $8 million — to bring the World Cup back to North America, and its first-term president, Carlos Cordeiro, had criss-crossed the globe to meet voters since his election in February.
Both new MLS member cities Nashville and Cincinnati are in the running as one of the 17 possible US sites, but odds are pretty long that any of the games will be played in the Midwest, outside of Dallas's obviously massive stadium complex, Atlanta's transportation hub logistics advantage and Philly's sports capital status, expect all the US games to played on the coasts.
Here's the thing though: Cincy and Nashville, along with Kansas City and Denver, should be thankful. The FIFA World Cup will probably end up with a net cost of well over $20 billion to host if the 2014 Brazil version is any indication, and hey, Brazil nearly went bankrupt and their government collapsed in scandal after the one-two punch of the World cup and the 2016 Summer Olympics.
In other words, it's money much better spent on infrastructure, roads, social programs, anything else. I kind of hope Trump wrecks the bid somehow, because for the first time his belligerence would actually be doing us a favor.
Of course hey by then he won't be in the Oval Office.