ARLINGTON (CBSDFW.COM) – As soccer fans around the world await the start of the 2018 World Cup games in Moscow on Thursday, FIFA is already looking ahead to the 2026 tournament. Soccer’s governing body on Wednesday selected the host for the sport’s showpiece event in eight years, and North America won.
North America had been the favorite ahead of Wednesday’s decision. FIFA’s 199 eligible member nations voted following a presentation from the two finalists. The joint bid from the United States, Canada and Mexico beat out an opposing bid from Morocco. The vote came back 134-65.
“Hosting a FIFA World Cup is an extraordinary honor and privilege,” said Canada Soccer president Steven Reed. “Canada, Mexico and the United States are ready to welcome the world to North America and serve as stewards of the largest FIFA World Cup in history.”
This is the first time that a group of three nations has been selected to host the World Cup.
“Just as your countries allowed me to get to know you, I hope we can welcome you and show you who we really are,” stated Brianna Pinto from the U.S. Women’s National Team during the North American delegation’s 15-minute presentation. There had been concern that President Donald Trump’s divisive leadership could hurt North America’s bid.
Carlos Cordeiro is the president of the U.S. Soccer Federation. “Hosting the 2026 FIFA World Cup is a rare and important moment to demonstrate that we are all truly united through sport,” he said. “We are humbled by the trust our colleagues in the FIFA family have put in our bid.”
Former U.S. soccer player Hope Solo had also criticized the U.S. Soccer Federation, saying that the World Cup tournament should be given to a “more deserving country.” Solo is one of America’s most decorated soccer players, making more than 200 appearances for her country.
Solo’s contract was terminated in 2016 for “conduct that is counter to the organization’s principles.”
Attention now turns to which North American cities will host the 2026 World Cup soccer games. Under the North American proposal, 60 of the tournament’s soccer games would be played in the United States, with Canada and Mexico hosting 10 games each.
“This is such a huge opportunity for North America, Canada and Mexico,” said Gina Miller, spokeswoman for FC Dallas.
The DFW area is on the short list of 23 host cities. It will still be another two or three years before the cities and venues are selected. AT&T Stadium in Arlington and the Cotton Bowl in Dallas are two top contenders. The United States last hosted a World Cup tournament in 1994, and the Cotton Bowl was among the venues.
“It makes so much sense,” Miller added, saying that FC Dallas is “lending all of our support towards this in partnership with the Dallas Sports Commission and Dallas Cowboys, so it just makes sense for Dallas/Fort Worth to be involved in the World Cup in 2026.
The World Cup is estimated to bring about $50 million to a city per game. Plus, the month-long tournament with 48 teams from around the world would lead to more North Texas jobs, as hotels and restaurants fill with players, coaches, personnel and international media who pack into the area.
The tournament typically includes 32 teams, but will be expanded to 48 teams by 2026.
“We are grateful for the chance to bring to life FIFA’s new vision for the future of football,” said Mexico Football Federation president Decio de Maria. “We will use this platform to unite the world around football and help create a new and sustainable blueprint for the future of FIFA World Cups.”