US-Mexico-Canada wins World Cup bid despite Trump's trade war and travel bans

US-Mexico-Canada wins World Cup bid despite Trump's trade war and travel bans
With the US and Canada failing even to qualify for Russia 2018, there was only one way to guarantee playing in 2026.
2 min read
13 June, 2018
FIFA president Gianni Infantino (R) addresses the United 2026 hosts (Canada-Mexico-US) [Getty]
North America will host the 2026 World Cup after FIFA voted overwhelmingly for the Canada-Mexico-US trio, beating Morocco's proposal for the first 48-team tournament.

The tournament will return to the US for the first time since 1994 after North America received 134 votes to Morocco's 65 at the FIFA Congress in Moscow on Wednesday.

Morocco qualified to play in this year's tournament held in Russia, but neither the US nor Canada made the final cut. 

This year's vote was public, in contrast to the choice of the 2018 Russian and 2022 Qatar hosts. 

The US proposed staging 60 out of the 80 games in 2026, leaving Canada and Mexico with ten each. The US is set to host all games from the quarter-finals onward. 

Read more: Your guide to Middle East teams at the 2018 World Cup

FIFA voters overwhelmingly opted for the financial and logistical certainty of a US-led bid over Morocco's proposal. 

An optimistic promise of delivering $14 billion in revenue helped sway voters, along with the lack of major construction work required on the 16 planned stadiums, all of which already exist.

By contrast, Morocco's proposal required the construction of 14 venues to be built or renovated as part of a $16 billion investment in new infrastructure. The vote leaves Morocco reeling from a fifth failure in a World Cup hosting vote, with the continent's sole tournament coming in 2010 in South Africa.

FIFA has in recent years been plagued by corruption scandals. More than 40 soccer officials and businesses have been indicted, convicted or pleaded guilty after federal prosecutors in the US launched an investigation. 

The bribery scandal put the governing body on the brink, FIFA President Gianni Infantino told the congress ahead of Wednesday's vote.

"FIFA was clinically dead as an organization," said Infantino, reflecting on his election in 2016. "Two years later, FIFA is alive and well, full of joy and passion and with a vision for its future".

But the North American bid also had to overcome concerns about US President Donald Trump's nativist rhetoric and a travel ban targeting residents of six majority-Muslim countries. 

Trump had previously said he would watch the FIFA vote "very closely". It was widely seen as a veiled threat to withhold US support from countries opposing the bid. 

FIFA now has final say on whether all three countries are guaranteed a place at the tournament. 

Agencies contributed to this report. 

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