North America will host the 2026 World Cup after FIFA members voted on Wednesday to reward the tournament to the joint bid of America, Canada and Mexico.
On the eve of the 2018 World Cup, delegates from 207 nations gathered in Moscow and voted for North America ahead of the other leading candidate to host the tournament Morrocco, who missed out on their bid to bring the competition back to Africa.
The United Bid received 134 votes, Morocco received 65 votes while one country voted for neither.
The joint bid from the United States, Mexico and Canada boasts modern, established stadiums and well-developed transport links underpinned by Mexican football fervour.
But the North American bid had feared it could lose out if the vote had become a referendum on the popularity of US President Donald Trump.
Trump has tweeted threats that if countries did not support the North American bid, they could not expect US support on other issues.
That prompted bid leader Carlos Cordeiro to urge FIFA members to vote on the “merits” of the bid, not Trump.
“We believe strongly that this decision will be made on its merits,” Cordeiro said. “This is not geopolitics. We’re talking about football and what is fundamentally, at the end of the day, the best interest of football and our footballing community.”
The US hosted the World Cup in 1994, while football-crazy Mexico hosted in 1970 and in 1986, the tournament remembered for Diego Maradona’s “Hand of God” goal.
The result comes as a blow to the Moroccan bid who had enlisted the support of the British communications agency that helped London and Paris land the 2012 and 2024 Olympics.
Morocco has tried and failed, five times, including in a bid to host the 2010 World Cup, which went to South Africa as the African continent hosted for the first time.