The United States, Canada and Mexico won the right to host the 2026 World Cup, surviving a tense battle with Morocco and winning 67 percent of the vote at FIFA’s annual meeting held Wednesday in Moscow.
The victory means multiple Major League Soccer stadiums throughout North America are in contention to host games. FIFA will have the option to trim the list of cities that were part of the final bid proposal.
The joint bid from North America offers a choice from 23 stadiums, including three each in Canada and Mexico slated to host 10 games. The United States would stage 60 games, and the 87,000-capacity MetLife Stadium near New York is the proposed site of the World Cup final.
“On behalf of our United Bid, thank you so so very much,” U.S. Soccer president Carlos Cordeiro said after the vote. “It is an incredible honor. Thank you for trusting us with this privilege of hosting the World Cup in 2026. Let us also salute our friends from Morocco. At the end of the day, we are all united in football. The beautiful game transcends borders and cultures. Football today is the only victor.”
More than 200 national football federations voted during the 68th FIFA Congress, one day before the 2018 World Cup kicks off. Russian president Vladimir Putin made an appearance at the meeting to welcome FIFA to his country.
After an electronic vote on the bids to close out the meeting, FIFA president Gianni Infantino announced the result: “So, we have a winner for the 2026 FIFA World Cup. The member associations of Canada, Mexico and USA have been selected by the FIFA Congress to host the 2026 FIFA World Cup. Thank you.”
North America received 134 votes. Morocco received 65. And there was one vote for “none of the bids.”
FIFA members had to pick between the financial security of the United States-Canada-Mexico bid, where all venues are ready, and a Moroccan bid that needed to build or renovate all 14 stadiums for a 48-team tournament. The United Bid also projected more revenue for FIFA, about $14 billion compared to Morocco’s $7 billion, and $11 billion in profit compared to the competition’s $5 billion.
Mexico previously hosted the World Cup in 1970 and 1986, and the U.S. hosted in 1994, while Morocco lost four previous bid campaigns.
Because only two bids were presented for voting, the bid that received a simple majority — more than 50 percent of votes — was awarded the 2026 World Cup. The electronic voting system used was tested multiple times throughout the meeting.
“We are very happy that after a long process we are now today here to present to you these two bids for a vote,” Infantino said before opening the vote. “We have been putting in place a thorough, transparent bidding process. We have to compliment the bidders for their hard work.”
Representatives of each bid then took the stage. Morocco focused on Africa’s passion for football, accessible location and ability to build the necessary stadium within a small carbon footprint. Former Nigerian international star Daniel Amokachi opened with, “For us Africans, football is life. football is beyond infrastructures and the zeros that come from it.
“In your hearts, you should make the right decision. It is about the continent and the world, the people who love football. Your vote will make a difference for the next generation. Vote with your heart. Vote for Africa.”
Representatives for the United 2026 North American bid took the stage before Morocco. Young national team players spoke about their dreams of playing or watching a World Cup in their countries.
Canadian star Alphonso Davies, 17, said, “I was born in Ghana in a refugee camp. It was a hard life…Today, I am 17 years old and I play for the men’s national team and I am a proud Canadian citizen. The people of North America have always welcomed me. If given that opportunity, I know they’ll welcome you.”
Brianna Pinto, 18, shared a story about connecting with Iranian soccer players while playing overseas for the U.S. Under-20 women’s national team and closed with, “I hope we can welcome you and show you all who we really are.”
Mexico under-17 standout Diego Lainez, 18, told the room how growing up his father was his coach and taught him “respect and hard work.”
“My dream is to someday wear the colors of my country in the World Cup, maybe in Mexico,” said. “I know it is a tough dream, but I remember the words of my father, ‘If you work hard, dreams come true.””
After words from Steven Reed, president of Canada Soccer, and Mexican federation president Decio de Maria — the former focused on the quality of facilities already in place in North America, which would allow the countries to focus solely on the experience. The latter expressed the passion for the sport in Mexico and the diversity of people who live in the three countries, saying, “In a world trying to pull us apart, football will pull us together.” — Cordeiro closed the United bid’s time at the podium.
“With an expected 5.8 million tickets sold, the world’s largest sponsorship market and match times for every time zone in the world, we expect record profits for FIFA of 11 billion dollars. In other words, it will be our honor to host the most extraordinary World Cup ever.
“We would be humbled to have your support, and deeply honored to host a World Cup 2026 that will change football for generations to come.”
Moments later, FIFA voted to give North America that opportunity.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.