KEIR RADNEDGE in MOSCOW: The United States, together with junior partners Canada and Mexico, will host the 2026 World Cup finals on the voting command of the annual FIFA Congress in the Moscow Expocenter, counting even Russia among their supporters.

United 2026 trounced its lone rival, Morocco, by 134 to 65 with abstentions from Slovenia, Spain plus Cuba with Iran voting ‘none of the above’. The four federations involved in the bids were barred from voting.

Mexico will thus take a hosting role for a third time after sole stagings in 1970 and 1986. The US welcomed the world game in 1994 while Canada staged a successful Women’s World Cup in 20215.

If the scarf fits . . . United bid leaders Steven Reed, Carlos Cordeiro and Decio De Maria

Leaders of the two bids had raced around the pre-congress conferences of the regional confederations here in pursuit of votes but without any late suggestion that the north African outsiders could pull off a shock success to rock the presidency of Gianni Infantino.

The Swiss-Italian was believed to have favoured the proposal from the United States with junior partners Canada and Mexico because of its all-round financial superiority from ticketing revenue to hospitality income to sponsorship allure.

Family affair

Each bid had a 15-minute slot to state its case. United kicked off with appeals for support from federation chairs Decio De Maria (Mexico), Steven Reed (Canada) and Carlos Cordeiro (US).

De Maria said a United hosting would be “like a great family reunion, all of us sharing our favourite sport.” Cordeiro concluded by saying: “Our three nations understand the power of football to bring people together just as it has brought us together.”

United’s campaigning effort had leaned heavily on having all necessary infrastructure in place and the projection of a record $11bn profit for FIFA’s coffers.

Morocco, by contrast, had promoted a concept of a need for the world game to be seen encouraging emerging countries. Its presentation led off with a promotional review followed up by appeals from bid chair Moulay Hafid Elalamy and a wrap-up by federation president Fouzi Lekjaa.

FIFA secretary-general Fatma Samoura then summarised the reports delivered by the controversial five-man evaluation task force which were heavily weighted in favour of the United proposal.

Guam, Puerto Rico and the US Virgin Islands recused themselves from taking part in the vote because of their status as US territories.

FIFA rebuilt the bidding process after the scandals surrounding the awards by the old executive committee in 2010 to Russia for 2018 and Qatar for 2022. Now, for the first time since 1966, the full congress voted on bids analysed by the task force and approved by the 36-strong FIFA Council.

How every country voted: