It’s official: The World Cup is coming back to North America. For the first time since the United States hosted the 1994 World Cup, a bid put forth by a CONCACAF country (or, in this case, a group of CONCACAF countries) will host soccer’s premier international tournament. Voting for the 2026 World Cup took place on Wednesday in Moscow, and the joint bid of Canada, Mexico, and the United States (known as the United Bid) defeated the bid put forth by Morocco.
This wasn’t the first time since 1994 that the United States Soccer Federation had attempted to host the World Cup. The Federation failed in its efforts to host the 2022 tournament, which was controversially awarded to Qatar. This time around, the USSF joined forces with the Canadian Soccer Association and the Mexican Football Federation in a wide-ranging bid that offered up 23 potential locations — 18 of which are in the United States — for matches to take place. Of the 80 matches that would occur, 60 will be held in the U.S., including the final at MetLife Stadium in New Jersey, with the remaining 20 split evenly between our neighbors to the north and south.
Ultimately, it ended up being enough to get the tournament in North America. There was some speculation that the bid could be in trouble due to, among other things, a 2015 corruption case against FIFA spearheaded by the United States Department of Justice and concerns about whether the policies and actions of President Donald Trump would works against the bid. Conversely, a report by FIFA issued earlier this month raised a myriad of concerns about Morocco’s ability to host the World Cup, giving their bid a 2.7 on their 5-point rating scale. (The United Bid graded out at a four out of five.)
It’s a big win for soccer in the United States, especially with how the national team crashed and burned out of World Cup qualifying for this go around. But we still have two more World Cups to go until it comes to North America, starting with the 2018 World Cup in Russia, which kicks off on Thursday. The preliminary match will take place between the host country and Saudi Arabia at 11 a.m. EST.