But Morocco, bidding for a fifth time, had closed the gap on "United 2026" to the point that nobody in Moscow wanted to make a public prediction ahead of the vote at the FIFA Congress, where 207 member associations, minus the four bidding nations, cast ballots.
President Vladimir Putin of Russian Federation on Wednesday, thanked FIFA president Gianni Infantino and the football community, for keeping politics out of sport, the day before the start of the soccer World Cup.
Since the US first hosted the World Cup in 1994, it has been in France, South Korea and Japan (joint-bid), Germany, South Africa and Brazil, with the Russia World Cup beginning on Thursday. The U.S. team failed to qualify this year. But with the tournament expanding from 32 to 48 teams in 2026, tripling the hosts would not cause as many ripples. The "United" bid from North America went in as the front-runner after inspectors gave it a score of 4 out of 5 in terms of the countries' ability and readiness to organize an excellent tournament. Chicago and Minneapolis also withdrew, citing similar worries. "Thank you for entrusting us with this privilege, the privilege of hosting the FIFA World Cup in 2026", an emotional US Soccer president Carlos Cordeiro said on stage after the vote.
The government later confirmed it was not going to host, saying B.C. couldn't agree to terms that would put British Columbians at risk of shouldering potentially huge and unpredictable costs.
FIFA's hosting selection process was revamped in the wake of recent scandals enveloping the world governing body of soccer.
By no means does the award of 2026 take away that grief, nor should it, but what the positive vote does offer the USA and its North American mates is an exciting beginning to a new era. Whether FIFA also extends this courtesy to Mexico and Canada - the latter a relative nonentity in worldwide soccer that has qualified for just one World Cup in 1986 - remains to be seen. That money will come from ticket sales, sponsorship revenue, and broadcast rights - and is projected to send $50 million to each of FIFA's 200-plus member nations.
The 2026 award is also a victory for many of FIFA's corporate partners, which will have the advantage of more teams and the world's biggest media market.
"The people of North America have always welcomed me". We will meet somewhere, but I don't know where yet because they refuse to disclose the exact location. All of the proposed stadiums exist already.
While Morocco had some key factors in its favour - its much more friendly time-zone for the key TV markets of Europe, its footballing culture and potential tournament legacy - on infrastructural and financial fronts, the United bid blew it out of the water. Morocco's bid garnered a score of 2.7, along with a stark warning from the inspection team that "the amount of new infrastructure required for the Morocco 2026 bid to become reality can not be overstated".
"We're not missing our own home World Cup". The two highest-ranked teams according to FIFA's rankings will receive byes, while the other four will play knockout games.