A joint bid by the United States, Canada and Mexico was awarded the right to host the 2026 World Cup finals at the FIFA Congress in Moscow on Wednesday.
By a vote of 134-65, FIFA members handed the mammoth task of hosting the expanded 48-team World Cup to the three North American countries, ending the hopes of Morocco, the only other country to lodge a challenge.
(FIFA President Gianni Infantino, right, poses with the United 2026 bid officials)
For the United States, it will be the second time it will host the world's premier soccer event after doing so in 1994 while Mexico has hosted twice before, in 1970 and 1986. Canada has never held the event.
For Morocco, the decision represents its fifth World Cup bid loss.
"Thank you so, so very much for this incredible honor. Thank you for entrusting us with the privilege of hosting the FIFA World Cup in 2026," Carlos Cordeiro, president of the United States Soccer Federation, said to the assembly.
"Let us also salute our friends from Morocco, at the end of the day, we are all united in football. That is the spirit of the World Cup, the beautiful game transcends borders and cultures."
Decio de Maria, president of the Mexico Football Federation, said in a release that his organization is "grateful for the chance to bring to life FIFA's new vision for the future of football," while Steven Reed, president of Canada Soccer, said the three countries are ready to "serve as stewards of the largest FIFA World Cup in history."
The successful bid for the United 2026 tournament came as little surprise given a FIFA task force had earlier given it a big tick of approval.
In a report published by soccer's governing body, the task force gave the combined bid a score of 402.8 out of a possible 500 when assessing factors such as the suitability of stadiums, referee facilities, accommodation, transport, information technology and the FIFA Fan Fest experience.
Also taken into consideration were commercial factors like organizing costs, media and marketing suitability and ticketing and hospitality potential.
On the same measures, Morocco was awarded just 274.9 points overall.
The win also put to rest worries that a social media intervention by U.S. President Donald Trump, seen by many as a threat, would scupper the bid.
Trump tweeted in late April that "The U.S. has put together a STRONG bid w/ Canada and 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)?" Trump's tweet read.
The U.S. president aside, by awarding the tournament to the North American countries, FIFA has also given itself the best chance to reap the biggest financial rewards, something not lost on FIFA President Gianni Infantino.
"We know where it will be held now, so the commercial plans will have to be elaborated," he said.
"We are coming from a situation where many of the media were writing that FIFA was toxic and that nobody wants to come anywhere near FIFA, maybe this was the case, certainly it is not anymore."
"I hope that we can generate even more (revenue) than the projections of the united bidding team are for the future. We will certainly do the best that we can and put the best people to work on this venture to make sure that we can organize a fantastic world cup and that we can have great revenues for reinvestment in football."