North America Wins Right to Host 2026 Soccer World Cup

Joint U.S, Mexico and Canada bid defeats Morocco in vote in Moscow; in separate vote, Palestinians fail in effort to allow FIFA to suspend countries over human rights violations

Delegates of Canada, Mexico and the United States celebrating with FIFA President Gianni Infantino, right, after winning a joint bid to host the 2026 World Cup, at the FIFA congress in Moscow, June 13, 2018.
Alexander Zemlianichenko/AP

The 2026 World Cup will be held in North America, following a vote at soccer's world governing body, FIFA, on Wednesday. It beat Morocco in the vote 134-65.

The World Cup was previously held in the United States in 1994, when Brazil won the tournament. However, this tournament will be staged in the U.S., Mexico and Canada, the first time a joint bid has ever won.

The victory comes at a strained time in relations between the United States and its two neighbors, with Mexico and Canada angered by the recent actions of U.S. President Donald Trump. 

Trump blasted Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau on Sunday after the G-7 summit, accusing him of being "weak and dishonest." And Mexico has been at loggerheads with the U.S. president ever since he made an election pledge to build a giant wall between the countries to keep out illegal immigrants.

Morocco's unsuccessful bid was its fifth losing bid for the World Cup. It means South Africa remains the only African country to ever host the tournament.

The 23rd World Cup will, for the first time, feature 48 national sides, up from the current 32 teams, and feature 80 games. The "United" bid of the U.S., Mexico and Canada promised to generate $11 billion profit for FIFA, which was doubtless a key attraction for the governing body.

In a separate vote, a Palestine Football Federation proposal to allow FIFA to suspend a member federation for human rights violations was heavily defeated by 82 percent of FIFA members. The vote was 156 against the Palestinian amendment and 35 in favor.

FIFA President Gianni Infantino delivering a speech at the FIFA congress in Moscow, June 13, 2018.
Alexander Zemlianichenko/AP

According to the Inside World Soccer website, the Palestinian wording had stated: “Failure to recognize, respect, protect, guarantee and defend human rights in accordance to international standards as well as any violation of them is strictly prohibited and punishable by suspension or expulsion.”

In the leader up to the 2026 vote, the United bid outscored the Morocco one in nearly all aspects in an examination last month by FIFA's inspection task force. Morocco scored 2.7 out of 5, while the North America bid scored 4. 

Trump had lobbied for the North American bid in recent weeks, though Moncef Belkhayat, a member of Morocco's 2026 bid committee, told CNN Sport's Alex Thomas that the "Donald Trump factor" was actually helping Morocco's bid. Not enough, apparently.

Trump mixed sports and politics in April when he tweeted: "The US has put together a STRONG bid w/ Canada & Mexico for the 2026 World Cup. It would be a shame if countries that we always support were to lobby against the U.S. bid. Why should we be supporting these countries when they don't support us (including at the United Nations)?"

The 2018 World Cup starts in Moscow on Thursday, when the host nation faces Saudi Arabia in the opening game. The tournament has already run into trouble with Egypt's star player, Mohamed Salah, was photographed with Chechen autocratic leader Ramzan Kadyrov.

The 2022 World Cup, which has been beset by controversy over the deaths of foreign workers building the stadiums, is set to take place in the Gulf state in the winter of 2022.

Twitter users were quick to point that that relations between the U.S., Mexico and Canada could be better: