KEIR RADNEDGE in MOSCOW: Leaders of the United 2026 World Cup celebrated their victory in togetherness in defiance of recent divisive political events.
The United States with Canada and Mexico scored an overwhelming victory by 134-56 over Morocco for the right to host the finals in eight years’ time. They achieved that electoral triumph despite President Donald Trump’s plans for a massive wall on the US’ southern border and his derisive tweets about Canadian Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau.
That victory margin was a surprise not only to many delegates but even to the United co-leaders.
Steven Reed, president of the Canadian Soccer Association, said: “I don’t think we thought we would have such overwhelming support. We were very humble in terms of the campaign but it was just how the amount of work we did over the past year and in particular over the last six six weeks which came to fruition.”
Explaining the individual commitment and effort, he added: “We had three teams led by each of the co-chairs and scanned out to every federation and every confederation we could possibly visit to send our message and tell them about quality and merits of our bid.
“It was an amazing amount of work by a dedicated team over a long period of time.”
Decio De Maria, head of the Mexican federation, had no doubt that the joint success was something “all Mexico will be celebrating.”
He said: “Mexico and the United States have a long joint history. We’ve had history when we’ve had differences of opinion and many when we’ve agreed.
“Football is such a powerful force it can bring us together to solve not only that problem but set up a system and proposal that was accepted by the majority of FIFA members. So football sent a clear and powerful message that few things can motivate people and bring societies together like football.”
If anything proved De Maria’s point it was the voting lists relevation that Russia, long considered in Morocco’s corner and implacably opposed to the US-led bid, voted in the end for United 2026.
US federation president Carlos Cordeiro said he hoped that the momentum over the next eight years and beyond would prove “transformative” for the sport.
He said: “We have three and a half, almost four million, players and we’d like to see that number triple. We want to use this to bring more resources to the game at all levels. We want to get it to be the pre-eminenent sport and this works hand in hand with the demographic changes unfolding as we speak.”
Cordeiro, asked about the Russian swing, said: “This was never about geopolitics, it was not a vote in the United Nations but among 210 football asociations and we tried to make the case about what was best for FIFA and how do you bring more kids into the game.”
The one open and possibly awkward question concerns whether one or two or all three nations will be seeded direct to the finals. This is not guaranteed and will require diplomatic handling by both world governing body FIFA and regional confederation CONCACAF.