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US, Mexico, Canada to host 2026 World Cup
EVEN as the Fifa World Cup tournament kicks off on Thursday in Moscow, it has been announced that the 2026 edition will be held in the United States, Mexico and Canada.
Fifa's congress voted overwhelmingly on Wednesday to back the tri-nation joint bid to host the tournament, leaving the other contender, Morocco, disappointed for having missed out for the fifth time.
The North American bid collected 134 votes, and Morocco picked up 65. One congress member voted for neither bid.
The 2026 event will be the first expanded tournament featuring 48 teams, up from the current 32-team format.
Both bids were given one last chance to make their case with 15-minute presentations in front of the congress at the Moscow Expocentre.
The North Americans said that their tournament would generate a profit of US$11 billion for Fifa, while Morocco said theirs would make US$5 billion.
Although it will be the first tournament to be hosted by three nations, the vast majority of the games will be held in the US, which has proposed 23 stadiums as venues. The US will host 60 of the 80 games, and Mexico and Canada will hold 10 each.
The final will be played at MetLife Stadium in New Jersey, home to the National Football League's New York Giants and New York Jets.
Carlos Cordeiro, president of the US Soccer Federation, said: "Thank you for entrusting us with the privilege of hosting the World Cup in 2026. Football today is the only winner."
The US last hosted the World Cup in 1994; Mexico did so in 1970 and 1986. Canada has never hosted a men's World Cup, but held the women's tournament in 2015.
The Confederation of North, Central American and Caribbean Association Football or Concacaf said in a statement: "We are very excited and humbled that the Fifa member associations have entrusted the Concacaf region with the honour of hosting the 2026 World Cup in its new extended format."
The last time Fifa voted on World Cup hosting rights was in 2010. The decision to pick Russia to host this year's tournament and Qatar for 2022 had rested with the old executive committee.
Following the corruption scandal that engulfed world football's governing body in 2015, several members of that committee were banned from the sport.
Under Fifa's new system for choosing the host, all eligible football federations who attend congress are given a vote.
The representatives behind both the bids have travelled the world in an attempt to win over the worldwide electorate.
Mr Cordeiro said his bid would generate US$14 billion in revenue; he also expects record ticket and hospitality revenue.
The result is a boost for Fifa president Gianni Infantino, who while he maintained neutrality during the campaign, was known to be keen to see the first expanded tournament be held in North America. REUTERS
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