America’s 250th birthday party will have a special guest of honor: the world’s biggest sporting event.
FIFA, global soccer’s governing body, voted on Wednesday to stage the 2026 men’s World Cup in the United States, Canada and Mexico. It’s a historic triumph for soccer’s growth here, and Philadelphia is expected to be a big part of the event. Lincoln Financial Field was prominent in North America’s bid book, as one of 23 potential host venues.
The bid process was not easy. North America had to fend off a competing bid from Morocco, and fight through some rough seas. President Trump’s denigration of immigrants from Africa, Asia, and the Americas rattled voters from those countries. The U.S. government’s ongoing investigation into corruption in global soccer rattled FIFA’s old guard in its halls of power.
That case was led by two key points. One was a guarantee of streamlined visas for players, officials, and the thousands of fans who will travel here. The White House even put its official stamp of approval on that, according to the New York Times.
The other point was the one that likely proved decisive: a promise of $11 billion in profit to FIFA’s coffers. That money will come from ticket sales, sponsorship revenue, and broadcast rights — and is projected to send $50 million to each of FIFA’s 200-plus member nations.
Morocco’s bid promised $5 billion in profit, and admitted needing to spend $16 billion on building stadiums and infrastructure. FIFA’s technical reports gave Morocco’s bid a 2.7 score out of 5, compared to North America’s 4.0.
But it’s no secret that soccer politics don’t work by the book. While this bid race wasn’t marred by the bribery that Qatar used eight years ago to upset the United States’ bid to host the 2022 World Cup, there was still plenty of skepticism.
That scandal led FIFA to change the way World Cups are awarded. Instead of a small executive committee making the decision, this time it was done by a vote of FIFA’s over 200 member nations. (The bidding nations couldn’t vote, nor could a few sidelined due to corruption.) There were months of intense lobbying, as bid officials flew to every corner of the globe to make their case in person.
It all came to a head Wednesday at FIFA’s Congress in Moscow, just before 7 a.m. North America’s bid won the vote in the first round, with 134 votes to Morocco’s 65. A third option to vote for neither got just one vote.
After so much disappointment eight years ago, it was finally time to celebrate.