With 24 hours remaining for the start of the 21st Fifa World Cup in Russia, 3 nations of North America jointly win the bid over Morocco to host the FIFA World Cup in 2026. They have received 134 out of 200 votes to earn the right to host ‘the greatest show on Earth’.
In 2026 it is also proposed that it will consist of 48 teams for the first time rather than 32 teams. The Moroccan bid tried hard to win; they even assured that unlike their rivals they would not hike up the ticket prices to increase profit.
But the FIFA hierarchy led by the president Gianni Infantino opted towards US, Mexico, Canada as they projected to generate a profit of $11bn for Fifa compared to the expected $5.7bn by Morocco.
Though the Moroccan bids looked enticing regarding fan engagement, they have to rebuild or renovate all of the 14 stadiums to maintain the FIFA standards. According to the FIFA task-forces, the US-led bid was superior to their North African rivals not only regarding revenue generation but also in infrastructure and technical grounds.
The World Cup will be hosted at North America for the fourth time now whereas Morocco bid for the 5th time to earn the hosting rights. The US hosted the World Cup in 1994 and Mexico did it in 1970 and 1986, but Canada is yet to organize the same. Though in 2015, they held the women’s tournament.
The US Soccer president Carlos Cordeiro quoted with delight – “Football is the only victor. We are all united in football. Thank you so much for this incredible honour. Thank you for entrusting us with this privilege.”
The US will host 60 matches whereas Mexico and Canada both will host ten games each. Among the 16 host cities, ten are from the US and the rest will be evenly split between the other two countries. The final will take place at MetLife Stadium which is capable of accommodating 84,953 fans. The whole tournament will continue for 34 days.
North America is also proposed to hold the playoff tournament in November 2025 to decide which two teams will get the final entry to the World cup. The playoff will be between six teams.
The Fifa president boasted how the federation had changed a lot under his leadership since taking over from Sepp Blatter. The previous bids for Russia and Qatar under Blatter reeked of controversies and allegations of corruption.
The Fifa congress held their proceedings at Moscow’s Expo-centre and where the Russian president Vladimir Putin greeted the FIFA officials. It is reported that Putin concluded his speech by saying “welcome to Russia” in English.
The decision to let North America host the World cup has some concerns regarding international policies. Such as the travel ban on residents of Muslim countries made by Trump administration. However, Trump has promised FIFA that there will be no such travel ban on foreign teams, officials and fans.