America will play a large role in the World Cup after all. Fans of the United States Men’s National soccer team disappointed by the team this year will still have to wait though.
America, Canada, and Mexico won a joint bid to host the 2026 FIFA World Cup on Wednesday, a tournament that Americans hope will actually feature an American team on the pitch. The three countries beat out Morocco after the FIFA members all cast their votes, in the same week the 2018 World Cup in Russia was about to start.
The 134-65 vote in favor of the three countries was the result of “relentless travel, as well as the strategic promotion of Canada and Mexico as true partners of the U.S,” according to ESPN.
ESPN reported that the announcement caused Carlos Cordeiro, the U.S. Soccer president, to tear up as he and the other bid leaders accepted congratulations from FIFA officials onstage.
“It was overwhelmingly emotional for everyone, not just myself,” Cordeiro said after the Congress ended. “The power of the unity, the unity of the three nations coming together offering something no other country, including my own, can offer. It made the difference.”
The three federation presidents knew that their best chance of giving their countries the lucrative opportunity to host the World Cup was by teaming up and targetting what they considered swing votes that they would try whipping to favor their bid.
“With most of the Western Hemisphere going for the United bid and most of Africa favoring Morocco, each side was seen as having about 40-45 votes locked up,” ESPN reported, also noting “the United bid saw Asia and, to a lesser degree, Europe as the biggest battleground and was determined to take its message directly to those federations.”
The US hosted the World Cup in 1994, and Mexico hosted in 1970 and in 1986. The latter tournament is best remembered for Diego Maradona’s “Hand of God” goal against England.
i24 News reported that North American bid leaders have promised to deliver a record $11 billion profit — music to FIFA’s ears. Qatar was chosen instead of America in 2022, although that vote has been seriously called into question following corruption allegations that led to the eventual ousting of the once all-powerful FIFA president Sepp Blatter, creating the need for rule changes, according to AFP.
The 24 members of the FIFA Executive Committee used to determine World Cup races. Instead, the host will now be decided by a vote of individual FIFA member nations.
In theory, that should make it harder for lobbying groups, or more corrupt tactics, to influence decisions. FIFA votes aren’t known for predictability however.